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Black aldermen back reassigning officers

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



African-American aldermen said Thursday they’re all for interim Police Supt. Terry Hillard’s plan to reassign officers from specialized units to the patrol division — but only if those freed-up officers go to high-crime districts.

Supt. Jody Weis resigned earlier this month before delivering on the police re-allocation he had promised.

So the next best thing might be Hillard’s plan to siphon 100 officers from the 260-member Mobile Strike Force — and possibly pull officers from other specialized units such as one that focuses on seizing guns from gang members — the aldermen said.

“We would prefer to have more police in the area on a regular basis than to have these paramilitary-type teams come in for a week or two, then leave. They don’t know the community. They don’t know the residents. They treat everybody like they’re a suspect or a criminal,” said Ald. Howard Brookins (21st).

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) agreed that specialized units temporarily assigned to high-crime areas sometimes do more harm than good.

“They come in with a heavy hand. That’s not always good for the community to develop a relationship with the Police Department. I support disbanding these units and putting these men and women back into the community where they will get a better understanding of the community and know who the actors are,” she said.

But Dowell and Brookins joined Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) in demanding that freed-up officers be reassigned to South and West Side districts with the highest volume of 911 calls and RAP events — “radio assignment pending” calls — in which there’s no car available to respond.

A Chicago Sun-Times analysis last fall found that the Southwest Side’s Chicago Lawn District leads the city in 911 calls. Other districts with large numbers of 911 calls and RAP events were South Chicago, Englewood, Harrison and Grand-Central.

Districts with the lowest numbers of 911 calls and RAP events were on the North and Northwest Sides, including Foster, Town Hall, Albany Park, Jefferson Park, Monroe and Wood.

“If you’ve got one area where police are able to respond immediately and other areas where calls are stacked up waiting for service, you have to go where you’re needed,” said Lyle, who represents a South Side ward where two officers were shot within the last year.

Black aldermen will be “screaming again” if officers yanked out of specialized units are not reassigned to districts that need them most, Brookins added.

“There are districts on the North Side where police are trying to manufacture things to do. And there are districts like the 6th [on the South Side] that don’t have enough officers to answer serious calls — let alone the call for, ‘Somebody stole my bike or somebody stole my iPod out of my car,’ ” he said.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Hillard said she didn’t have an immediate response to the aldermen’s comments.

The Sun-Times reported Thursday that Hillard was chipping away at his predecessor’s legacy by changing the department’s command structure and preparing to move officers to the patrol division from specialized units.



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