30 more officers planned for 16th District, but attrition will affect net gain
by BRIAN NADIG
The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District could receive 30 new police officers by October, but it is not clear what the net gain will be due to expected retirements and transfers.
“I’m constantly asking for more officers,” Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) said. “We’re not keeping up with the rate of attrition.”
Earlier this year the district received 15 new officers but lost 11 officers who retired or transferred, said District Commander William Looney. It is not usual for district officers to transfer to police operations at O’Hare Airport.
Currently the district has 225 police officers, up from about 190 two years ago but down from 270 in the early 2000s.
Napolitano said that he and Alderman Sposato (38th) recently met with Chicago Police Department First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio and were told that efforts would be made to bring about 30 new officers to the district over the next six months.
The district covers all or parts of eight wards, and the meeting was held “with the intent that all the aldermen were on board” with the request for more officers, Napolitano said. A larger group of Northwest Side aldermen made a similar request last winter.
In addition, Northwest Side Unite reports that it recently presented a petition with 2,200 signatures to Mayor Rahm Emanuel asking for the district’s ranks be restored to 270. An additional 300 signatures have been collected since the petition was given to the mayor, according to the group.
Napolitano said that he hopes a significant number of the new officers will come from the bidding process instead of the district being assigned probationary officers who often leave when their training is completed.
“I want the officers who want to defend a neighborhood where they live,” Napolitano said. “In the 10 bids (earlier this year) we got mid-timers. They come with a wealth of experience” but are not ready for retirement, he said.
“It’s great news for the community,” Sposato said of the plans for more officers.
Sposato cautioned that “nothing’s final until we get it on paper (and) we actually get the officers there.” He said that that he is worried about the net gain in officers given the district’s attrition rate but that “he’s very grateful” the department is working to address the personnel shortage.
Looney said that he hopes the additional officers will allow for two officers in each beat car on the afternoon and night shifts and for more rapid response cars, which fill in for beat officers when they are busy with an arrest or investigation.
In a Facebook posting, Alderman John Arena (45th) said, “I would like to thank my Northwest Side colleagues for their support and collaboration in ensuring the 16th District receives the resources they need to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
“This is a perfect example of our potential when we all work together,” Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th) said on Facebook.