LAKEVIEW — A robust North Side police district will get more police officers if two aldermen get their way in budget negotiations underway in City Hall.
On Tuesday, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said he and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) had secured "a commitment today that there will be more police, specifically for the 19th District."
At a budget hearing Tuesday, Tunney said he found it hard to support the proposed property tax hike when the district dropped by more than 100 officers over the past several years.
The district that includes Lakeview and parts of Uptown, North Center, Lincoln Park and Lincoln Square merged the 19th and 23rd districts in 2012. Since those early years, the police force has dropped almost 30 percent, from 468 officers to 333 in August, Tunney said.
Cappleman said they insist on a timeline of when officers will be added and how many the department will provide before the aldermen will approve the budget.
"When I vote yes or no on a budget, it really means when I negotiated with other aldermen and the mayor's office, was I able to get what I wanted?" Cappleman told East Lake View Neighbors.
Complicating matters are bidding contracts and priority placement for senior officers who seek out comparably safer North Side districts and then retire, Cappleman said.
The department's ability to "detail out" officers to other districts is also a concern, with 57 sent out of the Town Hall District in July 2014.
Cappleman said the aldermen want Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to provide consistent data and ongoing conversations "just so make so they can manage our expectations, and we can manage the expectations many of you have about wanting more police."
"It's been very difficult to get those numbers. We are demanding to have those numbers in place. Some departments might get embarrassed about it, but they need to be embarrassed," he added.
McCarthy blamed the drop in Town Hall officers on retirements. The department has hired 346 new officers this year and expects to address 201 vacancies by the end of the year.
The force has 9,786 beat officers.
Neighbors have consistently pushed for a larger police presence in Lakeview since Kevin O'Malley, 25, was shot dead during a robbery May 30.
A "rough" summer spike in crime was not enough to bring more officers to the Town Hall District, Tunney said in September. Without hope for more officers, Tunney and the district called on chambers of commerce to pay for private security along business corridors.
Contributing: Ted Cox
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