Residents hope to see more police on the streets of the 16th District, which 20 years ago had significantly more patrol officers; crime, other issues discussed at GPNA meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
Calls for more patrol officers on the streets of the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District were expressed at the Oct. 13 meeting of the Glad- stone Park Neighborhood Association.
Association president Joe DiCiaula said that a survey conducted by the group indicated that residents feel there is not adequate “police coverage” in their community.
“If criminals do not see the police, … that deterrent piece is not necessarily there,” Di- Ciaula said.
In early November, the district reportedly had about 215 sworn personnel, including patrol officers, field training officers, sergeants and lieutenants. About an additional 45 officers reportedly are as- signed to the district but are detailed to other units, including detective and narcot- ics divisions, the airport and major accidents.
In contrast, the district had about 270 patrol officers, not including supervisors, in the early 2000s. Top Chicago Police Department officials have said that there are staffing shortages in districts throughout the city.
The 16th District recently received eight new officers but reportedly is losing seven due to transfers, retirement and promotions.
District commander Heather Daniel told the association that police manpower and recruiting issues are a national problem and that the district’s focus is on examining crime tends and deploying patrol and tactical officers in effective ways.
“It’s not necessarily having an officer on every corner, but it’s having officers in the right spot in the right time,” Daniel said.
One area of focus has been neighborhoods near expressway ramps because criminals will “hit a bunch” of cars and then make a quick exit, Daniel said.
She added that “we do share info and coordinate” with suburban police departments to better address crime trends. “This neighborhood is sort of a secret gem, and it’s safe, and you’re engaged, and
that’s fantastic,” Daniel said. On the new Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, Daniel said that it will allow for more community input and “that’s fantastic” but that “it is a work in progress (and) it’s a completely new situation for the police department.”
In addition to the commission, there will be district councils, including three representatives who live in the 16th District. Some of the candidates running for the district council were outside the meeting collecting signatures for their nominating petitions for the Feb. 28 election.
The commission and district councils are intended to help bring residents and police officials together to better plan and prioritize ways to improve public safety and provide another layer of oversight.
For additional details on the GPNA’s survey results, visit https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/2e7fbbf7-1d13-4744-837f-cb85b0a4337f/6-22%20SWOT%20ANALYSIS.pdf.
In addition to crime, concerns were raised about higher density and vacant properties, while residents said that the community’s strengths included its parks, schools and restaurants.