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West Side Needs Fair Allocation of Police Services

February 18, 2011
By

After listening to an investigative report on WBEZ, 91.5 FM (National Public Radio), our president was motivated to make an unplanned visit to the Police Board Meeting. The report pointed out that the North Side aldermen and constituents were very vocal and actively demanding their share of police services. In contrast, they pointed out that the aldermen and constituents on the West Side, which has far more crime, were not taking the lead in demanding a more equitable allocation of police services.

 Last night was a particularly great opportunity to speak to senior police management. For the first time in five months since CANA has been taking a stand at the Police Board meetings, Superintendent Jodi Weiss was present. At the other meetings, the Police Board had given him a pass.

 Here is the content of CANA’s president’s presentation to the police board.

Recently I reported that I and my neighbors had seen an improvement in police performance. However, there is more evidence that a major contributor to that perception was the cold weather.

 Over the last few days, and as recent as this morning, we still cannot count on a response when we call 911.

 This morning, at around 8:48AM.,  a neighbor and CANA member made repeated unanswered calls to 911 to report the assembly of dozens of drug users and dealers in the alley behind his home for a free drug giveaway. After making several calls, he left his home in his car to drive around to find a police officer. Three blocks away he found one and convinced them to follow him back to his alley. They came and drove to and past the alley without getting out of the car.   

We remain concerned that as the weather moderates, the negative activity level will heat up as well. We are not confident that steps have been taken to address this problem at the appropriate level.

 Given the limit on police resources, it is critically important that police resources are allocated without bias, and are based solely upon the frequency of calls for help and the level of risk posed by each threat. There should be a standard of service applied throughout the city.

 Today on WBEZ there was a report on the response of aldermen to the possibility of beat realignment. I understand that to mean redrawing maps and possibly putting more police in areas where there is more crime.

 I would like to know whether one of the objectives of beat alignment is to enforce a standard of service quality throughout the city, such as a limit of no more than 10 minutes for response to all priority one calls, no matter where they originate in the city.

 We can only think of two reasons that this issue has not been addressed.

1. The aldermen whose wards are benefitting from this inequitable allocation are refusing to consider the needs of other neighborhoods with too few police

 2.The mayor and his chief of police have consciously allowed some communities to unfairly hoard resources that belong to everyone equally.

 Although there were between 75 and 100 people present, the only speaker was our president. At the end of the formal meeting, our president, Serethea Reid, and Ron Reid, were granted a private meeting with Superintendent Weis for 15 minutes.

 During that time they were able to ask questions related to: the metrics he uses to measure performance: the likelihood of beat realignment; the likelihood of police reallocation; the lack of police response to calls; and other concerns of  West Side residents.

 Unfortunately it is likely that he will be replaced with the new mayor. The answers they obtained from him may only have a life of a few months.

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