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Rogers Park Police District Has Fewer Cops, But Less Crime, Too, Data Shows

By Linze Rice | April 19, 2017 5:39am
 Police responding to a call of a man threatening neighbors in Rogers Park last summer.
Police responding to a call of a man threatening neighbors in Rogers Park last summer.
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DNAinfo/Linze Rice

ROGERS PARK — The Rogers Park Police District has fewer than average officers assigned to work in the area, though it also has the second-lowest number of reported crimes in the city, according to new data released by Chicago's Inspector General. 

The police district, which covers all of Rogers Park, most of West Ridge and the northern portion of Edgewater, contains 272 sworn officers assigned to work in the neighborhoods — nearly 60 officers less than the citywide average of 330, data shows. 

Those officers are assigned to protect the approximately 141,000 people who live in the district, according to the Chicago Police Department's most recent annual report from 2010.

Using that population data, there are about 50 police and 2,810 people per square mile in the district, or one officer for about every 519 residents.

The Austin District has the highest concentration of officers, with 91.7 per square mile, and the Jefferson Park District has the lowest concentration with 8.4.

Only five of the city's other 21 districts have less officers than Rogers Park. The Morgan Park District has one fewer officer at 271.

Neighboring Lincoln Police District, which covers the other half of Edgewater, has 247 officers.

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 drugs, forensics and troubled buildings.

The Rogers Park District also boasted the second-lowest number of crimes reported between Feb. 21, 2016 and Feb. 21 of this year at 7,400 — second only to the Lincoln District's 4,421. But it should be noted the police department does not make all reported crime numbers available, such as thefts under $500.

That means there is about 0.05 crimes per resident and 27 per officer, an analysis by DNAinfo shows.

Citywide, districts saw an average of 12,214 crimes reported during that period — significantly higher than Rogers Park.

Still, in West Ridge, burglaries, robberies and thefts continue to plague the typically peaceful neighborhood, prompting local police to think up new ways to engage and educate residents regarding crime prevention such as Burglary Assessment Teams and the new West Rogers Park Community Watch group

The district in the fall launched a two-officer Immediate Response Team through its community policing office to help residents more quickly respond to non-violent complaints. 

The Far North Side's reputation as a low-crime area might also inadvertently be a reason why many residents have admitted to keeping cars and doors unlocked, police said at a community meeting in January, which has provided opportunity for criminals from outside the neighborhood to come in and "test" what they can get away with. 

With the addition of the community watch group, Cmdr. Roberto Nieves said he hoped West Ridge's reputation as an open door to those thinking of committing a crime would cease. 

"It's almost impossible to change the behavior of a criminal," Nieves said in January. "We have to change. ... It begins at home and it begins with us."