CHICAGO (CBS) — Police First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger says getting beat officers to know the community, and bringing in drug and gang units, are among the vital ways the department hopes to cut crime in the struggling Englewood and Harrison districts.
But Wysinger says simply hiring more police officers is not the answer.
On Monday, police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to reduce violent crimes in the two districts.
The Englewood District includes the Englewood and West Englewood neighborhoods.
The Harrison District includes the East and West Garfield Park neighborhoods, as well as parts of Humboldt Park and North Lawndale.
The two districts combined account for nearly 25 percent of the murders and shootings citywide last year, and nearly a third of violent crimes in the first two weeks of 2012.
Wysinger explained that the plan to combat crime in the districts is a comprehensive strategy that involves more than just reassigning officers.
“We’re holding people accountable,” he said. “We want to start with beat integrity. On top of that, we’re going to put detectives there. We’re going to put gang investigators, we’re going to put gang enforcement, and tactical teams.”
Beat integrity, Wysinger explained, involves the same officers working the same beat every day, so that that they can get to know the communities better.
But more officers will also be assigned to both districts, Wysinger said.
“We’re going to give them combined in the 7th District a little over 120 officers per day, and in the Harrison District, a little over 150 officers per day,” he said.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has said the issue is one of manpower, and the key to reducing crime is actually hiring more police officers instead of just reassigning the existing ones. But Wysinger does not agree.
“I have to agree with the superintendent, who has said consistently, until we get the most out of the officers we have, we can’t really go out and hire additional people,” Wysinger said. “It’s just bad management unless you’re being extremely effective and getting the most back for your buck. So until we can do that, we’re going to go with what we have.”
Wysinger said the problems plaguing the Englewood and Harrison Districts are multifold, but reducing crime should have a broader effect.
“It’s a lot of social ills there. There’s a lot of crime. There’s educational issues that are there, and just overall poverty, so cracking down on crime, I think, will be a catalyst to get everything else we need to jumpstart Englewood and the Harrison District,” he said.
The city saw reductions in gun violence across the board last year, except in the Englewood and Harrison districts. The murder rate was down everywhere by the Englewood District.
“Twenty-five percent of all gun crimes and homicides occur – about 25 percent – in those two areas,” Mayor Emanuel said Monday.
The new effort will also involve assistance from local churches and community groups. Also, Cmdr. Leo Schmidt of the Gang Enforcement Division has been sent to the Englewood District as commanding officer.