DOWNTOWN — More police are coming to the South Loop after a rash of violent crime in the Downtown neighborhood, the local alderman says.
Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) told South Loop residents Tuesday night that she successfully lobbied Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson to allocate more officers to the police department's Central District after a daytime murder and other high-profile crimes drew the ire of the booming neighborhood.
"Between now and January this district will see a significant increase in police officers," Dowell said. "There will be a permanent increase, it's not temporary."
Dowell declined to share hiring figures, saying she had "been asked not to" as Johnson and Emanuel prepare their own addresses this week on public safety. But she said the new officers — a mix of new recruits and veteran police transferring from other districts — are already coming Downtown.
Police spokespeople declined to comment.
The officers would bolster the police's Central District, which covers a broad area stretching from Wacker Drive to 31st Street. The current number of police officers in the district is 345, according to the Sun-Times.
Violent crime is up across Downtown, but the jump has been more pronounced in the South Loop. Neighbors banded together last month to form a new watch group after a man was fatally shot while cutting through an alley to buy coffee on a Sunday morning.
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And the number of South Loop shootings surpassed last year's total, or any year's total this decade, in July. Police reported at least 18 car burglaries in a South Loop parking garage Tuesday morning, and a rash of other burglaries last week.
Dowell's announcement came less than a day before the police department is expected to announce the hiring of nearly 1,000 new police officers across the city. Emanuel is set to deliver an address on crime Thursday night.
Her plan quelled concerns from neighbors attending a packed police meeting Tuesday night at the Central District station, 1718 S. State St. There, some neighbors said the South Loop's police presence doesn't match the area's rapid growth. The neighborhood's population has more than doubled since 2000, and the South Loop is one of the few city neighborhoods still growing.
"Anyone in medicine will tell you prevention matters as much as prescribing the problem," said Anne Calcagno, who's lived in the South Loop for four years.
Dowell said the new cops coming Downtown are a direct result of the neighborhood's advocacy.
"Clearly when residents band together and act together, change happens," she said.
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