Another Tool for Building a Safer Neighborhood

The weather is heating up and we can expect the activity in the streets to heat up as well. We insist that Austin residents get the same level of police service as any other community. If there is a shortage of police manpower, no area of Chicago should experience a greater loss than any other.

 The police  and the OEMC have refused our requests for data comparing our service level with the service level in other neighborhoods. As residents, we must start to capture the data that will inform the police department of our actual experience.

 The strategy we propose consists of three parts.

  1. 911 Call Log
  2. 911 Call Tree
  3. FOIA Request

 Place 911 Call and Create a Log

Each time you make a call, you must keep a record of the call. You will need to capture the following information about the call:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Type of Problem
  • Time you witness police response, if any

 Create a Call Tree and get other residents to call about the incident

Safety is a concern for all of us. We must not allow the police or others to ignore the needs of our community. We need more than one person to report each incident. When you make a call to 911, you must inform others so that they can also call 911 to report the incident.

 A Call Tree which lists the names of others who are willing to call has to be developed. Neighbors need to come together to get 10 or 20 residents to agree to support each other by making calls as a group.

 Prepare a FOIA Request to find out how call was handled

FOIA is an acronym for the Freedom of Information Act. FOIA is an open-government law grounded in the principle that the public should be able to access public records and information about the workings of their government.

 We have a right to find out how the Police Department handled our call. We can find out by submitting a written FOIA request to the OEMC, Office of Emergency Management Communication.

  • No specific format is required.
  • No standard form is required.
  • No reason for your request is necessary.
  • Be as specific as possible about what records you are requesting.
  • Include your name and contact information 

Here is a sample prepared by the Better Government Association

 January 1, 2010

Dear FOIA Officer (use specific name):

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

I would like copies of records of all of your agency’s current employees and officers, including each person’s name, title, hire date, current salary and overtime paid in 2006.

Please send a copy of the records to me at the address below. I would also be happy to accept the records electronically. Because these records are in the public interest, I ask that you waive any reproduction fee.

If you deny this request, please tell me on what grounds, and to whom I should appeal.

Thank you,

  • Mary Frances O’Connor
    Better Government Association
    223 West Jackson
    Chicago, IL 60606


At our March meeting, we distributed sample forms for use by residents.

If you would like to be on the 911 Call Tree, send us your preferred contact number and we’ll add you to the list.

 If you’d like a form for use for FOIA requests, contact us. As stated above, no special form is necessary but we can give you a sample.

 As a group, we would collect this information over a period of weeks. We would then review it and compare it with the data from another neighborhood in Chicago. That analysis would determine our next steps in our effort to achieve an equal allocation of police services.

 This is just one more way that we can address the issue of safety in our community. We must still continue to participate in CAPS, to inform our alderman of the problems, and to manage our own homes.

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