Slow police response to burglary causes concern

September 5, 2009 7:34:23 AM PDT
A Chicago woman is stunned by a slow police response time to a burglary at her home. Police officials are admitting there are certain times of the day when they are simply stretched thin.

In the neighborhood where the woman lives, burglaries are up 22 percent over last year. Police are working to bring that number down but, three times a day, response times all over this city drop which means the chance of catching crooks in the act also declines.

The young Chicago woman, her home, her privacy, her sense of security were all violated two weeks ago. That's when her home in Chicago's Brainerd neighborhood on the South Side was burglarized while she was at work.

"They took electronics, they took money, they took jewelry," said the woman named Donna.

The home security system operated as it was supposed to: Notifying the homeowner who instructed the company to call police.

The alarm was triggered at 2:34 p.m. Police confirm they were notified at 2:38. But a squad car wasn't dispatched to the scene until 30 minutes later.

Despite afternoon traffic on the Dan Ryan, Donna managed to make it all the way from downtown to her home near 92nd Street faster than police.

She immediately asked officers: What took so long?

"There was a shift change, that was the reason they didn't respond, couldn't respond," Donna said. "It was upsetting at the time."

Police brass say they do their best to stagger shift changes so officers are always on the street in every district. But they concede resources are stretched.

Today, there are 13,057 on the force. That's 4-to-5 percent fewer than just a few years ago.

Department guidelines state crimes in which a person's life is threatened should be dispatched within 10 minutes.

Reports of property crime, like burglaries, don't have to be dispatched for a full hour.

"Calls are going to be prioritized. Anything that's life and limb will go to the top of the pack. Burglar alarm, as this came in, will take a lesser seat," said Deputy Supt. Dan Dugan, Chicago Police.

Donna wants to make it clear she appreciates the men and women of the Chicago Police force, but she is concerned that crooks may get wise to the shift-change slow down.

"If there are situations when they're not able to response, that needs to be addressed, because criminals don't take time out, they don't take a coffee break," said Donna.

Police said the delay in response during shift-change is not news to criminals. More than a few years ago, police learned of a gang that actually planned their crimes to coordinate with the police workday.

Police do their best to overlap some officers, but that can involve overtime, and that is a cost City Hall is monitoring these days.

Police tell ABC7 the delay in response during shift-change is not news to criminals. More than a few years ago, police learned of a gang that actually planned their crimes to coordinate with the police work day. Police do their best to overlap some officers. But that can involve overtime and that is a cost city hall is monitoring these days.


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