More beat cops to patrol high-crime areas

July 17, 2011 8:49:01 PM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday that 92 additional police officers will start walking street beats later this week.

The group, which includes five sergeants, is made up of officers being shifted from administrative positions, as well as 53 recruits who graduated from the academy last spring. They'll be in the South Chicago, Gresham, Chicago Lawn, Austin, Rogers Park districts and other high-crime neighborhoods.

Emanuel's announcement took place at Palmer Park in Roseland, which has one of the highest crime rates in the city. "These streets do not belong to the gangs. These streets belong to these children and their parents," he said.

But CeaseFire Illinois Director Tio Hardiman says that adding more cops is not the entire answer in Chicago's most violent neighborhoods.

"Getting police officers to walk around and have more visibility, it can help for the short term. Long term, it can't keep up that pace. People need other avenues," he said.

Hardiman says avenues like more jobs and drug and alcohol treatment. Even Police Supt. Garry McCarthy admits more officers will not stop violence.

"We know that we can't arrest our way out of the problem. There has to be community input," McCarthy said.

This is the third group of officers to be re-deployed to communities since Emanuel took office in May. One of the mayor's campaign promises was to put 1,000 additional police officers on the streets. On May 24, Emanuel announced that 500 police officers would be re-deployed to the beat, and on June 12, the mayor announced that an additional 150 officers would sent to high crimes areas. With this latest re-deployment, he's reached 742.

"That's where it starts. Everything else that we do is intended to build on the base effort," McCarthy said

. "Anytime you come through the community since the mayor has re-deployed these officers, you see a difference in the community," said Alderman Anthony Beale, 9th Ward.

Some Roseland residents question the plan.

"I'm not buying all these police they got on the streets 'cause they ain't out there," said Roseland resident Charles Turner said.

"These police need to get out of cars and walk through the blocks," said Roseland resident Latonya Williams.

The frustration led Rev. Gregory Livingston of Mission of Faith Baptist Church to stop the mayor as he left Sunday's news conference.

"We want to talk to you sir and the superintendent. Let's talk away from the camera. The cameras came to me. No superintendent, don't do that to me," Livingston said as the mayor walked away and McCarthy tried to intervene. "We're telling them what we need because he's getting some bad information. The people know what we need here," Livingston told ABC7.

Fraternal of Order Police spokesman Pat Camden calls the reassignments nothing but smoke and mirrors. The FOP says hiring new officers rather than shifting them is what it needed.

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