Budget to close 3 CPD stations; residents concerned

October 18, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Emanuel says closing three police stations will not have an impact on public safety. In fact, he says it will save money. Some residents who live around those police stations aren't so sure, and they took their concerns to the man in charge of the police department.

"I don't think that the closings are such that we can deal with less police presence. It is not like we're living in some sort of paradise here that doesn't have crime," said Yael Hoffman.

Residents who live in the Prairie District voiced their concerns at a public hearing with Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. They fear closing the district will reduce police patrols in the neighborhood and increase response times.

"They're moving to the center 2nd District on 51st. That's quite a bit a ways away from where I live at, and so if I call, I hope it doesn't take forever for a response," said Clarence Davis.

Chicago's top cop tried to alleviate those fears. He argues that by closing the districts, the city will free up more officers for street duty. The Prairie District is one of three stations Emanuel has proposed closing because of a $636 million budget gap. The others are the Wood and Belmont stations.

"It's not the building that matters," said McCarthy. "It's getting the cops on the street, holding the commander accountable for what he is doing with the resources that we are entrusting him with."

In addition to closing police stations, the mayor's budget also calls for cutting the number of 911 dispatchers. But, firefighter-turned-36th Ward Alderman Nick Sposato and the union representing fire dispatchers say doing that will impact public safety. They're hoping to fight the proposal in city council.

The mayor's budget still has to be passed by the full city council. Meanwhile, Monday night's meeting is the first of several being planned by the police superintendent.

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