WBEZ | community policing http://www.wbez.org/tags/community-policing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Teens learning radio skills in Chicago police program http://www.wbez.org/news/teens-learning-radio-skills-chicago-police-program-109447 <p><p>A pair of police officers on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side are helping teens learn radio production in an effort to keep them off the streets and improve their views on cops.</p><p>The program in the Englewood neighborhood fits with a push by Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy to improve the relationship between police officers and the people they serve.</p><p>It is called the 7th District Youth Anti-Violence Media Program. It introduces teens to the ins and outs of radio production, and gives them a chance to get on the air.</p><p>The classes are held three days a week at Kennedy-King College. The broadcasting instructors there pitch in to teach the kids.</p><p>The program was started by Daliah Goree-Pruitt and Claudette Knight, both community policing (or CAPS) officers. The two started out as beat cops. Now they are in charge of neighborhood outreach, counseling crime victims, and running community meetings &nbsp;in a neighborhood struggling with some of the highest crime rates in the city.</p><p>The two had a lot to do already. Knight and Goree-Pruitt also do a weekly food give-away and hand out turkeys before Thanksgiving. On the Saturday before Christmas, they gave away toys at the station house located at 1438 W. 63rd Street.</p><p>But 7th District Deputy Chief Leo Schmitz came to them last spring with a new task.</p><p>&ldquo;He was like, &lsquo;Think of something that we can do for the kids,&rsquo;&rdquo; Goree-Pruitt said.</p><p>Schmitz was worried about the summer then coming up, when hot temperatures and idle teens could contribute to a spike in violent crime.</p><p>Knight said they wanted to do something new.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, something different, some other added activity because you always hear basketball, baseball, but not all kids are sports-inclined,&rdquo; Knight said.</p><p>They wanted to do a swim program, but they could not get the funding. Goree-Pruitt said the only thing the department had money for was t-shirts for the participants. So Goree-Pruitt and Knight needed partners.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAPS%202%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 272px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Jamar Houston of WKKC teaches Jermaine Robinson how to DJ. (WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></div><p>Kennedy-King College, about a mile west of the 7th District station, has a broadcasting department and its own radio station, WKKC. Knight said it was the &ldquo;perfect opportunity.&rdquo; They approached the college and got the OK.</p><p>So all they needed were students. This turned out to not be easy. The two went personally to high school principals in the area, asking them to recommend students for the program&hellip; and they got almost no response. Then they asked area pastors - again, nothing.</p><p>So Goree-Pruitt and Knight just started approaching random kids on the street and around the neighborhood.</p><p>That&rsquo;s how Genavie Clark heard about it.</p><p>&ldquo;One day [I was] sitting in Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, and all the officers were sitting in Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, and Officer Goree came up to my table and she told us about the radio program. So I signed up for it,&rdquo; Genavie said.</p><p>Ultimately, the two got 20 teens of high school age for that first summer class, and it went so well they did a smaller after-school version this fall.</p><p>The program gets by mostly on the power of Goree-Pruitt and Knight&rsquo;s charisma, which is considerable. But these two career cops know nothing about radio production, and they do not have any money to pay instructors.</p><p>So the students learn mostly by observing WKKC in action.</p><p>The kids are exposed to a lot of the skills that go into producing a radio show: hosting, logging tape, mixing audio - even DJ-ing.</p><p>Station manager Dennis Snipe comes in every once in awhile to talk to the students about diction and public speaking, the assistant program director lets them look over her shoulder while she logs tape, and the hosts give them pointers during music breaks.</p><p>The summer classes were from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., so the students had to be fed. The owner of a shopping plaza across the street from the station donated Subway sandwiches.</p><p>So it&rsquo;s a nice story. But at first glance, none of it seems much like police work.</p><p>Knight disagrees.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all about community interaction, because the youth especially, most of their interaction with the police is negative. So if you start introducing a positive interaction at a teenage level, then they start to view us in a different way,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>WBEZ ran a story on Dec. 23 about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/8000-chicago-cops-now-little-friendlier-109425">police legitimacy training: thousands of Chicago cops re-learning how to best interact with the people they serve.</a></p><p>Efforts such as the radio program and legitimacy training fit with Superintendent McCarthy&rsquo;s priority on what he calls a return to community policing.</p><p>A recent study by Yale criminologist Andrew Papachristos found that Chicago in 2013 has had its lowest violent-crime rate in the past three decades. McCarthy credits community policing with a decrease in crime.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt believes it&rsquo;s part of her job to connect with people.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like I can help these kids. I may not help all of them, but the ones that I can help, they&rsquo;ll know the police department just don&rsquo;t lock kids up,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Besides teaching them how to produce a radio show and to like cops, the officers use the class as a way to help the students deal with their own issues. They talk to the students about resolving conflicts, safe sex, and staying out of trouble.</p><p>Before they start the radio lessons, the students gather around a round table in a small windowless room across from the WKKC studios.</p><p>One of the girls is talking to Goree-Pruitt about problems she is having with her stepmom. She says her dad is getting a divorce, and he blames her.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt councils her on being the mature one, even though her stepmom is the adult.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had the same issues, having two parents to living with just my mom, to my mom getting remarried, to my mom getting rid of all four of her daughters to be with this new husband, to my dad raising four daughters by himself. So I am no different from you all. Like I tell you all, because we&rsquo;re the police doesn&rsquo;t mean that we&rsquo;re not human,&rdquo; Goree-Pruitt told them.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt and Knight look tougher than they sound, and they both spent time on the beat, dealing with high-stress situations. But they also have families of their own, so maybe it is not surprising that they connect so well with teens.</p><p>&ldquo;When I come here it just, all my stress just goes away,&rdquo; freshman Wattsita Henley said.</p><p>The fall class, which ended earlier this month, was five high schoolers, three girls and two boys, and most did not seem like the types police really need to worry about.</p><p>Freshman James Cross Jr. said the closest he has ever gotten to drugs is seeing weed in a bag at school.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my friends showed me a bag, and I don&rsquo;t know why but I just started laughing,&rdquo; James &nbsp;told the group.</p><p>The other boy, Jermaine Robinson, has gotten into some trouble in the past.</p><p>He left Englewood to live with his grandmother in suburban Hazel Crest for a few years. &nbsp;He said he came back because it was just too quiet out there.</p><p>Robinson is about to start at Winnie Mandela, an alternative high school in the South Shore neighborhood.</p><p>He likes working with his hands, so he is trying to learn how to DJ.</p><p>His ultimate goal is to be a computer engineer.</p><p>&ldquo;Because like, when I was in 5th grade we did a program, and I earned a computer and I was taking it apart and putting it back together and stuff like that,&rdquo; Jermaine said.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt said she is not worried about what type of kids they are reaching, adding that she is just glad to be reaching any.</p><p>&ldquo; All I can say is that you touch one you reach another one, because they&rsquo;ll tell, they&rsquo;ll tell their friends.&rdquo;</p><p>The next radio class starts in January.</p><p>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</p></p> Fri, 27 Dec 2013 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/teens-learning-radio-skills-chicago-police-program-109447 Interview: Garry McCarthy on the future of the Chicago Police Department http://www.wbez.org/story/interview-garry-mccarthy-future-chicago-police-department-90445 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-11/AP070824028180.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It's been four months almost to the day since former Newark Police Chief Garry McCarthy arrived in Chicago to take over the Chicago Police Department. Since being tapped by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, McCarthy has had to hit the ground running, trying to learn both a city and a police department that's grappling with a rash of summer shootings.</p><p>As part of an update to our recent special, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-30/cops-and-neighbors-explaining-divide-between-police-and-community-87166"><em>Cops and Neighbors</em></a>, WBEZ's Robert Wildeboer sat down with McCarthy to talk about the lack of trust between police and some communities in the city of Chicago and his vision for rebuilding it.</p><p>Here's an excerpt of their extended conversation:</p><p><strong>McCarthy:</strong> I understand the historical divide between police and communities of color – it’s rooted in the history of this country. The most visible arm of government is a police force, and the institutionalized governmental programs that promoted racist policies that were enforced by police departments in this country are part of the African American history in this country. And we have to recognize it because recognition is the first step towards finding a cure towards what is ailing us.</p><p>Over the years we’ve actually done a lot of things wrong and I’m willing to admit that.&nbsp; A lot of police executives are defensive. We’ve done a lot wrong. In reducing crime there are unintended consequences in the community from policies like “Stop, Question and Frisk” that we have to recognize that maybe it’s not what we’re doing but how we’re doing it that’s affecting public trust.</p><p><strong>Wildeboer: </strong>Explain what that is and what are some of the issues that raises.</p><p><strong>McCarthy:</strong> I’m not going to say that "Stop, Question and Frisk" is wrong, I think it’s the way some agencies use it that is wrong. We infuse police officers into high crime neighborhoods based on crime trends. Based upon that, we take police actions whether it is arrests, stops, or motor vehicle violations or administrative notices of violation. All of those result in contacts with minority communities because the highest crime neighborhoods are generally low income, minority neighborhoods. This causes animosity when we’re stopping the wrong people.&nbsp;</p><p>That’s why zero tolerance is not a good idea. I do not believe in zero tolerance. We want to do enforcement against the right people, in the right places, for the right things. And when you stop somebody and they are the wrong person, once you’re done with that encounter we should be explaining to them why we stopped them and perhaps giving them alternatives to standing on that corner at that time.</p><p><strong>Wildeboer:</strong> And so how is the Chicago Police Department doing at that now?&nbsp; What are the plans for teaching Chicago police officers how to do that correctly?</p><p><strong>McCarthy: </strong>Well, I created something in Newark – a community engagement strategy – which really revolved around something called “Sell the Stop”: Sell to the person why it is you stopped them at that place at that time. But that’s a smaller subset of a bigger construct. I mentioned police legitimacy and procedural justice. Police legitimacy is something championed by a woman named Tracy Mears, a law professor at Yale. What it boils down to is when the police are viewed as legitimate, when they’re treating people in a fair fashion, people will in fact comply with the law as a result of the police legitimacy.</p><p>The second thing is procedural justice, which has it that fairness, in an encounter with a police officer, is more important than the results of whether or not you get a ticket, for instance. When an officer gives somebody a ticket and they treat somebody professionally, when they treat them fairly, people will have a positive impression of the officer, even though it was a negative encounter.&nbsp;</p><p>These are the concepts that we’re going to infuse into the agency.&nbsp;</p><p>Right now, I got here May 16th…the plan is to get through the summer as best we can. As soon as we get through the summer, that’s when we’re going to start breaking down and doing an introspection on everything we do in this agency – from vision to mission to how we do things to training to police discipline to deployment to uniforms, you name it – all of these things are going to be addressed with a long-term vision of where we want the agency to be in eight years.</p></p> Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/interview-garry-mccarthy-future-chicago-police-department-90445 Prosecutors to look at officers shown on video http://www.wbez.org/story/arthur-loevy/prosecutors-look-officers-shown-video-84899 <p><p>The Chicago Police Department is asking prosecutors to see if two officers <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-03-22/video-questionable-police-tactics-caught-tape-84086">shown in a video</a> on the city’s Northwest Side ought to face criminal charges.<br> <br> The video, shot March 19 in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, shows the officers outside a marked police SUV with a backdoor open as onlookers flash gang signs and taunt a young man inside. After WBEZ spotted the recording, the police department stripped the officers of their police powers and put them on desk duty. The department’s Internal Affairs Division began an investigation.<br> <br> Now the department has referred the case to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, according to office spokeswoman Sally Daly, who declined to comment further.<br> <br> “It’s a rare occurrence when Internal Affairs actually refers a case for potential criminal prosecution,” says Craig Futterman, a clinical law professor at the University of Chicago.<br> <br> Chicago attorney Arthur Loevy this week <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/arthur-loevy/youth%E2%80%99s-family-hires-lawyer-after-video-cops-surfaces-84740">said he represents</a> the young man shown in the video. Loevy said the youth is a minor and that the two officers put him into the SUV against his will.<br> <br> WBEZ is not naming the officers at this time.<br> <br> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/caps/police-video-cops%E2%80%99-supporter-speaks-out-84627">Some neighborhood residents</a>, meanwhile, are circulating a petition that asks the police department to return the officers to beat duty.</p></p> Fri, 08 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/arthur-loevy/prosecutors-look-officers-shown-video-84899 Youth’s family hires lawyer after video with cops surfaces http://www.wbez.org/story/arthur-loevy/youth%E2%80%99s-family-hires-lawyer-after-video-cops-surfaces-84740 <p><p>A veteran Chicago attorney says he is representing a young man <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-03-22/video-questionable-police-tactics-caught-tape-84086">shown on video</a> in the backseat of a Chicago police SUV.<br> <br> The video, shot March 19, shows a backdoor of the SUV open as onlookers flash gang signs and taunt the young man. The officers are outside the vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe with police markings, and appear to be standing by.<br> <br> <a href="http://www.loevy.com/Attorneys/Arthur-Loevy.shtml">Attorney Arthur Loevy</a> says the young man is a minor whom the officers loaded into the SUV against his will before driving him to the Humboldt Park block where a bystander shot the 90-second video.<br> <br> Residents of that block say the house closest to the SUV is a base of a street gang that operates in the neighborhood. They say the officers drove away with the young man after about five minutes.<br> <br> Loevy says the officers then dropped the youth off nearby and did not charge him. The attorney says the young man made it home OK but is moving out of Chicago for his own safety.<br> <br> After WBEZ spotted the video, the police department said it put the officers on desk duty and began an internal investigation. Interim police Supt. Terry Hillard said tactics to scare kids straight are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-police/chicago-police-superintendent-conduct-video-not-professional-84290">always inappropriate</a>.<br> <br> WBEZ is not naming the officers at this time.<br> <br> Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/caps/police-video-cops%E2%80%99-supporter-speaks-out-84627">neighbors involved with CAPS</a>, the city’s community-policing program, want the department to return the officers to beat duty.</p></p> Tue, 05 Apr 2011 09:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/arthur-loevy/youth%E2%80%99s-family-hires-lawyer-after-video-cops-surfaces-84740 Police video: Cops’ supporter speaks out http://www.wbez.org/story/caps/police-video-cops%E2%80%99-supporter-speaks-out-84627 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-01/Eric_Hudson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Here’s a follow-up on a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-03-22/video-questionable-police-tactics-caught-tape-84086">video</a> WBEZ has been reporting about. That video, shot March 19, shows a young man in the backseat of a Chicago police SUV. A back door is open and he’s getting taunted by onlookers who flash gang signs — while two officers seem to stand by. The police department has assigned those officers to desk duty and started an internal investigation. WBEZ is not naming them at this time. Some Northwest Side residents, meanwhile, are petitioning the department to put those two cops back on their beat. WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell connected with Eric Hudson, a resident behind that effort. They spoke near Hudson’s home, just blocks from where the video was shot. Hudson has worked with the two officers to root out gangs from his own corner. As he explains in this six-minute interview (below), he has also worked to hold police accountable for abuses.</p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483429-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-april/2011-04-01/video2110401cm.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 01 Apr 2011 20:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/caps/police-video-cops%E2%80%99-supporter-speaks-out-84627 Neighborhood residents defend Chicago cops shown on video http://www.wbez.org/story/caps/neighborhood-residents-defend-chicago-cops-shown-video-84518 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-31/ChiPolice-AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Two Chicago cops <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-03-22/video-questionable-police-tactics-caught-tape-84086">shown on video</a> with a young man in the backseat of their SUV are getting support from some Northwest Side residents.<br> <br> In the video, recorded March 19 in Humboldt Park, the officers appear to be standing by as onlookers flash gang symbols and taunt the young man. After WBEZ spotted the video, the police department put the officers on desk duty and began an internal investigation. On Friday, interim police Supt. Terry Hillard called the incident “not professional.”<br> <br> The neighborhood residents say they’re drafting a petition to Hillard that praises the officers. They’re also organizing calls and messages to Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward) and Linda Flores, commander of the police department’s Shakespeare District.<br> <br> “I would never do this for any cops but these two,” said Eric Hudson, who knows the officers through CAPS, the city’s community-policing program. “These aren’t John Wayne Robocops out here. Their actions empower us to become more vocal and take back our corners.”<br> <br> Witnesses say the incident lasted about five minutes before the officers drove the young man away.</p><p><strong>Hear our interview with Eric Hudson at <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/caps/police-video-cops%E2%80%99-supporter-speaks-out-84627">Police video: Cops’ supporter speaks out</a>.</strong></p></p> Thu, 31 Mar 2011 09:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/caps/neighborhood-residents-defend-chicago-cops-shown-video-84518 Crime issue boils in some ward races, simmers in others http://www.wbez.org/story/24th-ward/crime-issue-boils-some-ward-races-simmers-others <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/24th Ward forum 2cropped.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicagoans who punch cards for their favorite aldermanic candidates might have the issue of crime on their minds. But depending on where they live, they will have heard more&mdash;or less&mdash;about crime from their candidates. Talk of crime is loud on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, where there&rsquo;s relatively little violence. And some say there&rsquo;s complacency among candidates in West Side neighborhoods, where there&rsquo;s more crime. Two WBEZ bureau reporters, Odette Yousef and Chip Mitchell, look at this mismatch between crime and election talk. We start with Odette on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side.<strong><br /></strong><br />AMBI: Ready? Front! At ease.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Thirty or so police officers from the Rogers Park police district are on hand for an outdoor roll call. They&rsquo;re at Warren Park on a freezing night.<br /><br />AMBI: Twenty-four oh five, Twenty-four twelve...<br /><br />YOUSEF: Normally, police hold roll calls inside the district station. But 50th Ward Ald. Bernard Stone asked them to do it here this time.<br /><br />STONE: On behalf of the entire 50th Ward, I want to thank each and every one of you for what you do for us.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Usually, shows like this only happen when a jarring crime rocks a neighborhood. The police and community all come out to show criminals that law-abiding citizens still own the streets. But no major incident has happened recently in this police district. Ald. Stone is running for reelection. One of his opponents thinks that&rsquo;s the real reason he called this show of force: A little politics before a scheduled CAPS meeting. CAPS is the city&rsquo;s community policing program.<br /><br />MOSES: I was very disappointed in Ald. Stone trying to take CAPS and make it a political event. CAPS and politics do not mix.<br /><br />YOUSEF: So candidate Michael Moses leaves after the roll call. But he&rsquo;s the only one. The other four candidates all stay through the meeting. It&rsquo;s hard to say exactly how residents and politicians in the Rogers Park police district should feel about crime, because the stats are kind of all over the place. In 2010, general &ldquo;violent crime&rdquo; in the district fell more than 5 percent from the previous year but murder went up 75 percent. In another North Side police district, murder increased 400 percent. But consider this: That&rsquo;s from only one murder the previous year. So, we&rsquo;re talking about five murders in one North Side district in 2010. But some West and South side police districts saw dozens of murders last year. Still, crime is one of the top issues in North Side races.<br /><br />ROSENBAUM: Too often the media and everybody in this business, we talk about violent crime rate in Chicago. And the reality is that crime is more complex and neighborhood disorder is complex.<br /><br />YOUSEF: This is Dennis Rosenbaum. He&rsquo;s a criminologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Rosenbaum says even when violent crime may be low, residents feel fearful when they or their neighbors are victims of lesser offenses, like graffiti, car breakins, and auto theft. And, that fear translates into politics.<br /><br />ROSENBAUM: In times of fear and external threat, we tend to turn to authority figures to give us guidance. So it&rsquo;s a way of taking control over issues.<br /><br />YOUSEF: So Rosenbaum says it&rsquo;s little wonder North Side politicians are talking about nonviolent crime&mdash;after all, their constituents take it seriously. But there&rsquo;s another reason why North Side candidates are talking crime and safety. For two years, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis has advocated so-called beat realignment. It would involve redrawing maps of where cops patrol, so there&rsquo;d be more officers and cars in high-crime areas. One fear is that the North Side would lose officers to the West and South sides, where there&rsquo;s more violent crime. Previous efforts to realign beats have fallen flat, but there are rumors Weis is still trying to make it happen. Weis declined to confirm those rumors for WBEZ this week, but here&rsquo;s what he told us a couple months ago.<br /><br />WEIS: What we think by moving people around from districts that are not necessarily the quietest districts, but districts that have an abundance of police officers, we think we can move them over to the districts that are shorter, we can start attacking the whole image of Chicago.<br /><br />YOUSEF: The future of beat realignment in Chicago is unclear. For one, the two frontrunners in the mayoral race are against it. And they say they want to dump Supt. Weis. Still, North Side aldermanic candidates continue to talk about realignment and run against it. One of them is Michael Carroll. He&rsquo;s running in the North Side&rsquo;s 46th Ward. He&rsquo;s also a cop.<br /><br />CARROLL: As a police officer, I know, absolutely, putting more police officers in high-crime areas to bring down the crime rate works. However, I have a very hard time sending our police assets from our community, when we have a clear problem with gang activity and violence somewhere else.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Carroll says his ward has pockets of violent crime that are just as bad as parts of Chicago&rsquo;s West or South sides. He fears losing cops on the North Side would make those places more dangerous. Carroll&rsquo;s opponents are pretty much of the same mind. Most want the city to hire more officers, rather than shift existing officers around. But those same candidates concede that could be tough because the city&rsquo;s faced with a $600 million deficit. Not many have detailed roadmaps for how they&rsquo;d overcome that tricky problem. But in the 48th Ward, one candidate does. It&rsquo;s Harry Osterman.<br /><br />OSTERMAN: What I&rsquo;d like to try to do is see if we can modify state law to use dollars for public safety. There&rsquo;s a surplus in TIF funds for the city of Chicago, and potentially using some of that to hire police officers is something that I think would be worthwhile.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Osterman&rsquo;s goal of hiring more police is popular on the North Side. But using TIFs to get there may be less so. Tax increment financing districts have a bad reputation for being slush funds. So, maybe it&rsquo;s telling that Osterman wants to use them. On the North Side at least, the debate about crime and safety is so loud that candidates will turn to whatever tools are around to ensure police resources stay put. Reporting from Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, I&rsquo;m Odette Yousef.<br /><br />MITCHELL: And I&rsquo;m Chip Mitchell at WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau. The political talk about crime is a lot different in this part of Chicago. Not many aldermanic candidates are hollering for more patrol officers. There are some loud voices on the issue. They&rsquo;re regular folks or community activists, like a woman named Serethea Reid. She moved into the Austin neighborhood a couple years ago.<br /><br />REID: There were people on the corner, drinking, selling alcohol out of the trunks of their cars&mdash;partying, loud music&mdash;two blocks from the police station.<br /><br />MITCHELL (on scene): So what have you done about it?<br /><br />REID: I started by calling the police. We&rsquo;d call, wait 10 minutes, call, wait 10 minutes, call. And the police were not coming.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid started attending local meetings of CAPS, the community-policing program. She soon noticed a stronger police presence near her house, but she wanted more help for the rest of Austin. So, last summer, Reid formed a group called the Central Austin Neighborhood Association. It meets in a church.<br /><br />AMBI: Today, I wanted, I was going to start with reviewing and sharing what our mission is....<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid&rsquo;s group shepherds Austin residents to Police Board meetings, where they demand better service. She&rsquo;s writing various Chicago agencies for data to see if police response times are slower in Austin than in other neighborhoods. And Reid wants information about that beat-realignment idea police Supt. Jody Weis talks about.<br /><br />REID: All the responses I&rsquo;ve gotten were that it was going to take a few months before he&rsquo;s done: &lsquo;It&rsquo;s not finalized. We can&rsquo;t talk about it because he&rsquo;s working on it.&rsquo;<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid says she feels like officials are giving her the runaround. She says her alderman isn&rsquo;t helping much either. That&rsquo;s despite the fact that it&rsquo;s election season, when politicians tend to speak up about nearly everything. So I&rsquo;ve been checking out West Side campaign events to see whether aldermanic candidates are pushing for police beat realignment.<br /><br />AMBI: I want to say thank you to each and every one of you candidates. Let&rsquo;s give them a round of applause.<br /><br />MITCHELL: This is a high-school auditorium in North Lawndale. Sixteen candidates crowd onto the stage to explain why they would be the best 24th Ward alderman. The forum lasts more than two hours, but not one of the candidates brings up the idea of realigning police beats or other ways to bring in officers from lower-crime areas. After the forum, I ask incumbent Sharon Denise Dixon why.<br /><br />DIXON: I can&rsquo;t answer that question for you, but that is a very good question. I can&rsquo;t answer it but it certainly should have been on the radar here, seeing that Lawndale is a high-crime area with lots of homicides and drug activity, etc. So that should definitely be a concern.<br /><br />MITCHELL: I&rsquo;ve reached out to aldermanic incumbents in five West Side wards with a lot of crime. All of the aldermen express interest in shifting police to high-crime neighborhoods. But none is trying to organize any sort of campaign to make it happen. In the 29th Ward, Ald. Deborah Graham points out that any organizing would meet resistance from people in low-crime areas.<br /><br />GRAHAM: Some of our aldermen on the north end [of the city] are fearful of losing their police officers.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Graham wishes police Supt. Jody Weis would lay out his plan and build public support for it.<br /><br />GRAHAM: Having a clear understanding of why we need the realignment&mdash;to ease their discomfort of possibly losing squad cars&mdash;would be very helpful.<br /><br />MITCHELL: But there may be another reason why so few West Side candidates are pressing the issue. 24th Ward challenger Valerie Leonard says many constituents don&rsquo;t want more officers.<br /><br />LEONARD: Talk to younger people, especially on the street. They say they&rsquo;re scared of the police. They say that the police are always picking on them and...<br /><br />MITCHELL (on scene): It&rsquo;s not a winning campaign issue.<br /><br />LEONARD: That&rsquo;s true, given the history.<br /><br />MITCHELL: The history includes a point in 2003, when Mayor Daley was running for reelection. He promised to realign police beats. That riled aldermen of lower-crime wards, including some on the North Side. After the election, Daley backed away from his promise. Instead of realigning beats, his administration set up elite police teams to rove across large swaths of the city, from one crime hotspot to another. That way, the low-crime areas didn&rsquo;t have to give up patrol cops. One reporter called it the path of least resistance. But Chicago police SWAT officer Erick von Kondrat points to a downside.<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: These teams out there&mdash;whether they&rsquo;re area gang teams or some of the other citywide teams that move from district to district on a need-by-need basis&mdash;they don&rsquo;t have that opportunity on a day-to-day basis to make the connections that are really going to bolster the trust between the community and the police department.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Officer Von Kondrat says distrust in the police partly explains why West Side aldermen don&rsquo;t campaign for more beat officers. But he says there&rsquo;s another reason. He noticed it when he was a 24th Ward candidate himself (before a challenge to his nominating papers knocked him off the ballot).<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: A lot of these incumbents, because Mayor Daley is leaving, they don&rsquo;t really know what they&rsquo;re going to be stepping into at this point in time.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Again, the mayoral frontrunners don&rsquo;t support beat realignment. So, Von Kondrat figures, no West Side alderman can afford to be on the new mayor&rsquo;s bad side.<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: Going against that force is probably not in your best interest. It wouldn&rsquo;t make much sense to bring that issue up.<br /><br />MITCHELL: The beat-realignment idea has stalled, time and again, since the 1970s. The alternative would be to hire more cops for high-crime areas. That&rsquo;s basically what the top mayoral candidates are suggesting. In this economic climate, though, it&rsquo;s not clear what option the city can afford: financing a larger police department or shifting around the cops it already has. Chip Mitchell, WBEZ.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 17 Feb 2011 21:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/24th-ward/crime-issue-boils-some-ward-races-simmers-others