Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Murder Of Alexis Stubbs: Two Cops Did Their Best. Did Chicago?

Two Chicago cops, short-handed and with calls for service stacking up, arrived at the scene of a 12-year-old girl’s murder within ten minutes of the first call for help, city records and dispatch archives show.

But the local police district was operating on a shoestring that night—six units sat idle due to lack of manpower—and now Chicago's left to wonder "what if."

It's impossible to know if things would have ended differently for Alexis Stubbs had the 19th District been properly staffed two Sundays ago. But having full police manpower would certainly make it a lot easier to look in the mirror, knowing that Chicago didn't let her down on the cheap.

Alexis Stubbs
Alexis was beaten and stabbed to death by her mother’s ex-boyfriend in an Uptown apartment just before 10 o'clock on June 11, police said.

31-year-old John Singleton, paroled in April after serving time for a 2014 domestic violence attack on the girl’s mother, is charged with Alexis’ murder.

The mother, Misty Stubbs, called 911 at 9:46 p.m. on June 11 to ask for police assistance in getting Singleton out of her apartment, according to dispatch records provided by Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

As she stepped outside and waited for officers to arrive, OEMC classified her call as a domestic disturbance, one of the department’s highest priority classifications.

But the call was not dispatched to officers because the 19th District was in Radio Assignment Pending (RAP) status, which means that there were not enough police units to handle incoming calls for service.

The district—operating on a summery Sunday evening with six of its patrol units down due to lack of manpower—had been in a RAP since 3:31 that afternoon, according to records secured by CWBChicago.
Alexis was killed in her mom's second-floor apartment in the 4600 block of North Beacon | Google
Three minutes after her first call for help, Misty called 911 again, records show. Singleton had armed himself with a knife, she said.

Noting that the situation was escalating, a dispatcher read the call out on the air in case there were resources available. But no one took the call, and it sat unassigned for nearly two more minutes.

Finally, at 9:52 p.m. a two-cop unit was able to respond. Within three minutes, one of the two officers broke onto the radio, breathless, calling for EMS and giving out a description of Singleton, who had just fled through the back door with a hammer.

RAP City

The 19th police district, which stretches from Fullerton to Lawrence and from the Chicago River to Lake Michigan, has fallen into RAP status 51 times so far this year, according to records maintained by CWBChicago. The vast majority of those manpower shortages have affected the evening shift from about 2 p.m. until 10 p.m.

By comparison, the district had reached just 23 RAPS at this point last year; 11 RAPS in 2015; and 21 RAPS in 2014.

“The backlogs are terrible,” one Chicago dispatcher told us. “[Shift] change time is absolutely horrible. I feel powerless with no resources.”

Up Is Down

But why is the 19th District is so short-staffed that six units need to sit idle on a June afternoon due to lack of manpower?

After all, local politicians are claiming that manpower in the district is “up.”

Even the media gets into the "up" game. Take this spin from DNAInfo writer Patty Wetli:
The Town Hall (19th) Police District, which serves most of North Center and Lincoln Square, has 50 more officers than it did a year ago and yet residents still feel vulnerable, 
That’s something. Those insecure North Siders with all of the "extra" cops. But it’s not the whole truth.

As of March, the latest month for records are available, the 19th District had 34 more officers on staff than it did a year earlier.

But that modest increase does not nearly make up for the bloodletting that occurred in the district before residents began to speak up.

Compared to 2011, police staffing in the district is down 18%.

Manpower is only “up” if you compare it to how low Mayor Rahm Emanuel and local aldermen allowed it to go.

It seems to be a constant theme for crime issues in Chicago. Up is down and down is up. Smoke and mirrors are preferred over straight talk and definitive action.

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