Sunday, October 16, 2011

Public Meeting on Police Districts 2 and 21 (Hyde Park - Kenwood) Merging -- Ald. Will Burns Presiding

posted by chicago pop

Much of Hyde Park - Kenwood is in the Chicago Police Department's 21st District, pictured above. As a part of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's proposed budget, this district would be one of three citywide that would be consolidated with surrounding districts as a cost-saving measure. The rationale for this, in the case of Hyde Park's 21st District,  is the fact that because of the relatively low number of 911 calls originating in the lakefront area, it is considered to be low crime and not in need of a dedicated district office and staff. The proposal therefore calls for the 21st to be merged with the neighboring 2nd (Wentworth, pictured below) that includes the area west of Cottage Grove to the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Based on discussion at a recent 21st District CAPS meeting, CPD representatives made it clear that if this consolidation goes through, police manpower will go where the 911 calls are. This is predominantly west of Cottage Grove. As a result, response time to 911 calls from Hyde Park - Kenwood could lengthen. If Hyde Park - Kenwood is as safe as this scenario assumes, then all is well, and the University of Chicago police should be able to pick up the slack. Or, if this is not the case, or if local crime takes the form of isolated sprees by individuals or groups, then these sprees could run longer, cause more damage, tax the U of C's police force, and aggravate the neighborhood's reputation as 'unsafe'.

CBS Chicago sums it up:

The Prairie District station at 300 E. 29th St. dates from 1952. It serves an oddly-shaped precinct, extending north of Cermak Road and west to the Penn Central railroad tracks to include Chinatown and parts of Bronzeville, then proceeding south down the lakefront east of Cottage Grove Avenue.

At its southern edge, the district borders include the entire Hyde Park neighborhood except for Jackson Park, and extend south to 61st Street between Cottage Grove and Dorchester avenues so as to include the entire U of C campus.

The U of C also has its own private police department, which patrols even farther south into the neighboring Grand Crossing District.

But the Chicago Sun-Times recently pointed out that the nearly 60-year-old station could be merged with the Wentworth District to the west, given that its resources are no longer dominated by crime in the now-demolished Robert Taylor and Stateway Gardens public housing high-rises along the State Street corridor.

Yet, while crime in Hyde Park and around the U of C campus is vastly lower than in many nearby neighborhoods, security is still a concern.

If you have any questions or concerns about this little-publicized bureaucratic reform, there is a public meeting on the issue with 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns tomorrow night at:

4935 S. Dorchester
St. Paul the Redeemer Church
Subject: Consolidation of the 21st and 2nd Police Districts