LAKEVIEW — Lakeview's top cop told residents this week he plans to get more officers onto the midnight shift by next year.
Town Hall Police Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris outlined several issues within the neighborhood at a community policing meeting this week in hopes of avoiding the finger-pointing and yelling that has marked previous gatherings.
The midnight shift — when the most robberies happen — historically has been the least staffed in the city due to contract constraints, Voulgaris said.
And while the neighborhood did not lose officers as a result of two districts merging, 69 officers left because of retirements, promotions or transfers — something he has no control over, he said.
Most of the officers on the midnight shift are there because they want to be or because they have low seniority, he said. For the most part, he cannot simply move more officers to nights.
But there are some plainclothes officers Voulgaris can move who are not bound by contract, he said, and next year, he plans to "beef up the midnight shift" with those officers.
The overall staffing problem is not something he can resolve on his own, he said. The Town Hall District has the sixth-most officers as far as staffing, meaning there are 16 other districts behind him that are "crying for police officers as well," he said.
"Honestly and frankly, I have to deal with what I have," he said.
Voulgaris also addressed social services, bars and liquor licenses. He maintained that The Crib, a homeless youth shelter run by The Night Ministry, should pre-assign its 20 beds to “individuals who are making a way with their lives.”
The Crib's lottery system for allotting beds isn't fair to the people who don’t get beds because then they are forced to sleep on the street, he said.
The commander added that The Night Ministry, which offers social support services to 18- 24-year-olds, should expand services to other neighborhoods.
“We get a lot of people coming here just to go to The Night Ministry,” he said. “There is a need here, yes, but there’s a need everywhere else.”
Previously, The Night Ministry said it could not end The Crib’s lottery system because it’s difficult to predict which people are “the most worthy” of critical services.
On the topic of late-night liquor licenses, Voulgaris said he is against adding them in the neighborhood, but he needs the community's support in his fight.
He cannot oppose a liquor license unless there have been many calls for service to that location. Only one or two police calls to a location is not grounds for revoking a liquor license, so neighbors with concerns about a location need to call the police, he said.
The best way residents can help fight crime in the neighborhood is to email him about problem areas, he said. He’s already met with several people to discuss strategy, but on the whole, he’s gotten very few emails about specific areas in the district where neighbors see problems.
“If I leave you with anything,” he said, “It’s the feedback I need more than anything.”