LAKEVIEW — Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said Lakeview doesn't have enough police officers — and he plans to push the mayor to hire more citywide.
"There's a big issue with the number of police we have," Waguespack told a group of residents earlier this week at a South Lake View Neighbors meeting.
He pointed to a 2012 merger, in which the 19th and 23rd police districts were combined. Today, the 19th (Town Hall) district spans Lakeview and includes parts of Lincoln Park, Uptown and North Center.
When the districts merged, Waguespack said, "we were promised ... there would be no reduction in the number of police in the area. And that turned out to be false. I don't know if it was a lie, but I'll just say it was false. It's completely gone in the opposite direction."
Waguespack said there were about 470 police officers in the area before the merger. Today, that number sits around 360, he said.
"If you split that up over the different beats, and if you split that up over three different watches, that's a huge reduction in the number of police officers," he said. "That's also a huge reduction in the number of officers who can respond to incidents."
When asked about Waguespack's claims, Chicago Police Department spokesman Martin Maloney offered the following statement:
"The Chicago Police Department is committed to continuing its mission to provide the best police service to all of the City’s [sic] neighborhoods and we regularly monitor staffing levels in districts across the city. CPD has not transferred any officers out of the 19th District in recent months, and we have opened the 19th District to bid positions every month, allowing new officers to be stationed there."
Waguespack said he's pushing Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make room in the 2015 budget for new police hires across the city.
"The money is there," he said. "There are issues with pension liabilities, which I understand. We've got serious pension problems ... but we can't reduce the number of officers in this city to the point where the number of crimes are increasing and officers can't keep up."
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