7.5.11 - Statement from Alderman Tunney
During the last several years, the 44th Ward has continued to build a reputation as one of the City's most popular entertainment and hospitality destinations. Visitors to the neighborhood may come from a few miles away to thousands to enjoy our restaurants, entertainment and sports venues. I firmly believe that because we are an entertainment destination, it is important that the police districts serving the 44th Ward have the number of officers assigned to them appropriate to the influx of people we see daily and nightly, not just geared to the number of residents. It is unrealistic to expect beat officers to cover areas where there are high concentrations of entertainment and hospitality venues. That is why I have proposed an "entertainment detail" be formed to assist the beat officers.
Unfortunately, at the same time that we've seen the number of people drawn to our neighborhoods increase dramatically, because of budgetary constraints and hundreds of retirements in each of the last few years, the number of Chicago police officers on the street citywide is estimated to have perhaps fallen by 3-4,000 officers. That is not acceptable but it is the budgetary reality for all Chicagoans at this time.
I have requested that the 19th and 23rd districts provide me with up to date information on exactly how many officers are on the street from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am every day of the week.
If the number of officers appears to be insufficient, I will ask the command staff of the Chicago Police District to do anything possible to get more officers on the street during the later hours. The business community has hired off duty officers to work those overnight hours on the weekends. I will continue to work with those organizations to see if they have the right number of individuals working.
Since I was elected into office, I have spent more than half of my infrastructure menu funds each year to provide new residential lighting in the 44th Ward, most recently around the Halsted area. Our office facilitates hundreds of tree trims every year to help put more light on our streets. We have worked annually with our police and community organizations on providing safety seminars and community walks.
We have been dealing with late night crime on our streets for years. As a victim of a robbery myself, I understand everyone's concern and I share it. We all need to be aware of our surroundings and not be afraid to call 911 with as much information as possible when you see someone behaving suspiciously or committing a crime. We all must work with the police to effectively fight crime.
Alderman Tom Tunney