UPDATED: 5/24/2011 10:59 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s highest crime areas are about to see more cops with hundreds of police officers being redeployed to boost police presence in those districts.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has repeatedly said he wants to get 1,000 more police officers on the streets, and this morning he said 500 Chicago police officers would be transferred to patrol some of the most dangerous districts on the South and West Sides.
While members of the communities getting the police may be happy, the police union isn’t. CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.
“Without the security and safety of our streets we cannot have successful, thriving communities where people want to live and stay,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Successful policing begins with the beat officers who earn the trust of the communities they serve, shift by shift and patrol by patrol. This is a down payment on my promise to add 1,000 police officers to the beat. We cannot beat crime without more officers on the beat.”
Starting Thursday, the South Side districts getting the extra manpower are Grand Crossing, South Chicago, Calumet, Gresham, Englewood and Chicago Lawn. The two districts on the West Side getting more officers are the Harrison and Austin districts. The redeployment will be completed by Sunday.
“This is a tremendous deal,” said Daryl Bell when learning Englewood will be among the eight communities receiving additional police officers. Bell is an outreach coordinator for the community organization, Teamwork Englewood.
Bell said having more police on the streets of Englewood, will improve everyone’s quality of life.
“That’s going to mean a whole lot for the residents who have been here for 35 or 40 years they’re going to be able to sit on their porch again this summer, they’re going to be able to barbecue. The kids will be able to play in the front yard. It’s going to be great,” Bell said.
“Englewood is long overdue and I do believe that and it’s my prayer that it will last more than three months,” business owner Jenice Sanders.
The two units used to be put in high crime areas when problems erupted. Bell says with the 500 officers now being spread out among eight communities, the officers will have an even bigger impact.
“This time, they’re going to be able to learn and know the residents, because they’re going to be here longer. They’re not going to come here and just leave,” said Bell.
Longtime Englewood resident Cora Butler said, “We can get to know them one on one and so I guess we’ll feel more comfortable with them and we can let them know what we really feel, air out our problems, so that’s a good thing about them coming to the area.”
The officers will come from existing specialized units–or so-called targeted response teams–that had been moved around the city to high crime hotspots as needed.
Vanessa King, who has lived in Gresham for 11 years, says she’ll feel better walking or taking public transit, knowing there will be more officers on patrol.
“You feel like you’ll get robbed, people following me in cars,” said King. “I feel really unprotected.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, the reassignments will last 90 days so that acting Police Supt. Garry McCarthy can evaluate and decide if the officers’ presence on patrol is effective.
A police union leader dismissed the crime-fighting plan as simply shuffling the deck.
“They’ve taken hundreds of highly skilled street officers and transformed them overnight into hundreds of highly skilled beat officers. What’s the difference? To say there’s 500 more officers on the street is not the case. We need to hire more police.”, said Fraternal Order of Police President Michael Shields in a statement.
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