Two community relations officers of the 21st Police District attended the September 15 meeting of the East Hyde Park Committee. The 21st regularly sends officers to these meetings, to answer questions and discuss various issues.
This valuable service may no longer be available, because the district's community relations staff is being reduced from six officers to two. The reason for this is understandable—the officers are being reassigned to patrol duties as part of an effort to have more police presence on the street. But it short-changes community relations work, which is critically important in a big city.
This move illustrates just how tightly stretched the Chicago police are at this point. The root problem, of course, is money, and the city has none. There are places to look for money to hire more police. A good start would be reducing the number of political wards from 50 to 20, which would save the pay of 30 aldermen and perhaps 100 ward staffers. Then, take away, or at least reduce and restrict, aldermanic "menu" money, some of which is put to good use, but much of which is frittered away on stuff that just helps aldermen get reelected. (Can you spell "Free Parking and Positive Loitering?")