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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s top cop went into the Kenwood/Hyde Park neighborhood Monday night to try to calm residents’ fears about the closing of their local police station.
The so-called Prairie District station is one of three Mayor Emanuel wants to shutter to help balance the budget.
CBS 2’s Mike Parker was at the somewhat tense meeting with residents.
The 21st Police District station has much of the 4th Ward as its territory. The plan is to consolidate it with the second district to save money and improve police performance.
But out in the community, there are serious concerns that performance will not get better — quite the contrary.
Jennifer Green is worried about her young daughter’s safety.
“It keeps us safe and allows me to be at ease knowing that my daughter’s school is right across the street from a police station,” she said.
Jillian Haines is another resident who fears for the future of the immediate neighborhood around the station house.
“We’re concerned that if there is no longer a police presence, robberies could increase, muggings could increase — I mean, you name it,” she said.
Another resident tells WBBM Newsradio’s Michelle Fiore that she’s concerned that the closest station right now is on 29th Street. In the future, that would be greatly stretched to either 17th Street or 51st Street.
But Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy tried to calm the fears, saying the consolidation makes good organizational sense.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michelle Fiore Reports
“Consolidating one district into another gives us about 20 more police officers to put on the street. If you have a hundred here and a hundred here, and we put them together, you’ll have about 220 on the street,” he said.
McCarthy says he expects police response time in the community to actually improve.
The local alderman, Will Burns, is still a little skeptical and is taking a wait-and-see approach.