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Lincoln Police District Has Fewer Officers Than Most, New Data Shows

By Patty Wetli | April 17, 2017 5:40pm
 Sean Loughran is commander of the Lincoln (20th) Police District.
Sean Loughran is commander of the Lincoln (20th) Police District.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

LINCOLN SQUARE — According to new data released by Chicago's Inspector General, the Lincoln (20th) Police District has fewer assigned sworn officers than nearly every other district in the city.

As of Feb. 21 there were a total of 12,051 sworn officers in the Chicago Police Department, according to the Inspector General report. Of that number, 60 percent were assigned to districts and 40 percent were assigned to specialized units such as narcotics, forensics and troubled buildings.

The Lincoln District ranked 20th out of 22 districts, with 247 sworn officers. Only the Albany Park (17th) Police District, with 246 officers, and the Shakespeare (14th) Police District, with 243, had fewer assigned officers.

But the total number of officers provides an incomplete picture of police manpower in the Lincoln District.

Headquartered at 5400 N. Lincoln Ave. and under the command of Sean Loughran, the district is bounded by Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, Lawrence Avenue and Peterson Avenue.

Communities served by the district include Lincoln Square, Uptown, Edgewater, Andersonville, Bowmanville and Budlong Woods.

A calculation of the concentration of officers places the Lincoln Police District sixth out of 22, with 56.6 officers per square mile, compared with 25.6 for the Albany Park District. The Austin (15th) District has the highest concentration of officers, with 91.7 per square mile, and the Jefferson Park (16th) District has the lowest concentration with 8.4.

The most recent annual report issued by the Chicago Police Department, in 2010, placed the population of the Lincoln District at 91,000 people, compared with 144,000 for the Albany Park District.

Between Feb. 21, 2016 and Feb. 21, 2017, a total of 4,421 crimes were reported in the Lincoln District, by far the lowest in Chicago. The next lowest districts were Rogers Park (24th), with 7,400 total crimes reported, and Albany Park, with 7,720.

The district is frequently referenced as the safest in Chicago, which "can potentially lead to people letting their guard down," Loughran told residents at an April CAPS meeting.

The commander said the district is also notable for having the fewest calls for service, "by far," which could reflect a reluctance to "bother" police or a sense of complacency.

"If you hear something or see something, you've got to say something," said Loughran, who noted that a district's calls for service determine the amount of resources allocated by the department.

Despite its relative safety, the district is not immune to violent crime. Lincoln Square neighbors have been stunned by a pair of shootings, one fatal, in recent weeks.

"We're dealing with very, very low numbers ... [but] when something happens in 20, it has the potential of feeling like an avalanche," Loughran said.

One consistent theme in the district, he said, is the amount of preventable crime — people leaving garage doors open, windows unlocked or keys in parked cars.

To combat crimes of opportunity, the district's CAPS office has created a home security checklist, available at the Lincoln Avenue station. At residents' request, the district's CAPS team will visit several homes on a block to "grade" their security level.

"You want to lessen your chance of being a victim," said Loughran.