Town Hall Police Manpower Well Above Average, Unlikely To Satisfy Neighbors

By Ariel Cheung | April 18, 2017 6:32am
 The Town Hall District has 389 officers as of February.
The Town Hall District has 389 officers as of February.
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DNAinfo/David Matthews

LAKEVIEW — Headquartered in Chicago's densest neighborhood, the Town Hall District still ranks better than most when it comes to its police manpower and the number of crimes committed per officer.

The district has 389 sworn officers, according to a quarterly report released Monday by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

While many Chicagoans are getting their first look at never-before-released data on the number of officers assigned to each of the city's 22 police districts, aldermen within the Town Hall District have been providing manpower figures for more than a year.

RELATED: Here's How Many Officers Are Patrolling Your Neighborhood: Watchdog

Still, the citywide data reveals where the Town Hall District falls in terms of how many officers patrol the neighborhoods per square mile, and how many total crimes per officer each district faces.

Across the board, the district fares well above average, but the numbers bring little relief to neighbors' concerns about crime after an unusually violent weekend in Lakeview.

Police wait for the Game 1 of the NLDS to finish outside Wrigley Field in 2016. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]

Last month, Town Hall Cmdr. Marc Buslik told neighbors that crime had dropped in nearly every major category, from burglaries to robberies. But officials have long acknowledged that perception of crime is a different matter than the raw data.

Over the weekend, police said a 21-year-old man was wounded in a shooting in Lakeview, a woman was raped nearby and three taxi drivers on the North Side were robbed by the same man in 24 hours.

The Town Hall District, which includes Lakeview and parts of Lincoln Park, Uptown, Lincoln Square and North Center, has the fourth-highest number of sworn officers in Chicago, the data shows.

The 19th and 23rd districts merged in 2012 to form the Town Hall District. [Provided/Chicago Police Department]

The Harrison District, which covers Humboldt Park, East Garfield Park and West Garfield Park, has 462 officers, followed by the Englewood District (426) and Chicago Lawn District (394).

Police districts in Chicago have on average 330 officers to protect 122,527 people on average, or approximately one officer for every 390 people. Naturally, though, those officers are split between three shifts, meaning they're never all patrolling at the same time.

To compare, the Harrison District has the lowest ratio of people per officer with 153. The highest is 750 people per officer in the Jefferson Park District, where 266 officers patrol Edison Park, Norwood Park, Jefferson Park, Forest Glen, Portage Park and Dunning.

In the Town Hall District, there is an officer for every 516 people. The district also ties for ninth in terms of the number of officers per square mile.

When it comes to total crimes — from petty shoplifting to shootings — the district sits squarely in the middle, just below average with 12,238 crimes reported in the past year.

But with its large manpower, the Town Hall District ties for third in the city for the fewest crimes reported per officer. With 31 crimes per officer, it falls in line with two other North Side districts that cover Uptown, Lincoln Square, Edgewater North Park, Albany Park and Irving Park.

RELATED: Overall Crime In Lakeview Lower Than Expected In 2016, But Robberies Jump

Critics are quick to point out that the Town Hall District still has fewer police officers than it did when the 19th and 23rd districts merged in 2012.

But Buslik has maintained since his start leading the district late last year that it's "very difficult to correlate the number of police officers and crimes."

Still, staffing in the district has increased 17 percent since October 2015, when Alds. Tom Tunney (44th) and James Cappleman (46th) agreed to massive property tax hikes in exchange for more officers for the Town Hall District.

Since then, the aldermen have provided regular updates on police manpower, continuing efforts to increase the number of officers in the Town Hall District into 2017.