LAKEVIEW — With the promise of more officers ringing in Lakeview's ears, the first month of more manpower fell short of expectations — but December could bring better news.
While eight officers were transferred to the Town Hall District in November, the net increase totalled only five officers, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) confirmed, adding that the district has been "hit hard" by retirements.
In December, more officers are expected to transfer into the district to fill vacancies, Tunney said.
In October, Tunney said a 43-officer boost in the district was part of the reason he voted to approve a record $589 million property-tax increase, which was passed by the City Council 36-14. Both Tunney and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said they fought for a "commitment" to get more officers in the district after a "rough" summer of crime.
Although the aldermen have no control over police department manpower, they used the property tax vote as a bargaining chip with the city to secure the promise, they said.
After the vote, Tunney said 43 more officers would join the Town Hall District by the end of 2016. In addition to the eight transferred in November, Tunney said 25 officers would be assigned to the district in the first three months of 2016, with 10 more following during the rest of the year.
On Friday, Tunney said those 35 officers would be among 300 whose current administrative positions will be filled by civilian hires. They will be in addition to officers filling 15 vacancies in the district between November and December — meaning November's shortfall could just be a temporary blip in the plans.
Tunney said he will continue to work with Town Hall Cmdr. Robert Cesario to push for an increase in officers. Cesario did not return a request for comment.
Part of the manpower problem stems from the district being heavily staffed by veteran officers, who have seniority when bidding for placement in other districts to fill vacancies, Tunney said.
Detailing out officers to other districts can lead to even lower staffing levels on the North Side, with up to 50 officers in the 333-officer force recently detailed out.
Over the summer, Tunney said getting more officers for the Town Hall District would be difficult, given its relative safety compared to South and West Side neighborhoods in the city. Tunney and Town Hall officers urged neighborhood groups to hire their own private security to keep the streets safe.
The Town Hall District, also known as the 19th District, encompasses Lakeview and parts of Uptown, North Center, Lincoln Square and Lincoln Park.
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