SOUTH SHORE — After a recent string of homicides in South Shore, residents worried the Grand Crossing District Police were spread too thin, but new data shows North Side districts are spread much thinner.
On Monday, city’s Office of the Inspector General released for the first time in years the number of police officers working in each district, information that residents had been left to guess at for years.
Mary Steenson, a CAPS beat facilitator in the Grand Crossing District, said the local district under Cmdr. Darren Doss was stretched too thin for the amount of violence now happening in South Shore, including seven homicides on a recent weekend.
Steenson and others in South Shore have for years been left to guess how many officers are still in their neighborhood as the force’s numbers have declined by nearly 1,000 officers since 2009.
The numbers released Monday show the district is just slightly under the average number per district with 321 officers assigned to cover the district that includes South Shore, Grand Crossing and Woodlawn.
Chicago police districts have on average 330 officers to protect on approximately 122,500 people on average — that’s nearly 390 people per officer.
The Grand Crossing District covers many of the city’s historically black middle class neighborhoods and at least in this one district, people are getting more police protection than the city’s whitest district, the Near North District covering Lincoln Park and Old Town.
It’s tough to make comparisons because the crimes in each district are so dramatically different, but the police in South Shore had 1,000 fewer crimes to respond to than their colleagues working Lincoln Park, with 12,384 crimes in the Grand Crossing District in the past 12 months compared to 13,343 crimes in the Near North District.
The Grand Crossing District also had more police officers per person, with one officer for every 234 people, compared to one officer for every 325 people in the Near North District.
People in South Shore can readily tell you that this does not translate into a greater feeling of security in the neighborhood and one reason is the crimes the officers in the two districts are dealing with are so dramatically different.
A South Shore woman in late March called Grand Crossing District police to her house because she had a man in a chokehold in her garage who said he was hiding out from people shooting at him. This came just before a weekend where police were responding to multiple calls of gunshots in a single night in the neighborhood.
The Grand Crossing District is generally in the middle of the pack and a far cry from the Harrison District on the West Side, which has one of the largest number of officers in the city for a district with nearly the least amount of people.