I wanted to give everyone a quick update on the specific shooting crime that took place in front of Cardinal Bernadin School yesterday evening around 5:30 p.m. I am as angry to hear about this crime that has put families in such immediate danger and the escalation of such crimes taking place in all neighborhoods of our city.

At this time, the Police are giving us information that the person shot at 1651 W Diversey was a known gang member from the neighborhood, walking back from work to his home near Hamlin Park. The offender was an unknown male in a black vehicle. The 19th District officers responded to a call from the hospital about a shooting victim, who had gone home first and then to the hospital. More details will come out as the police investigate and question the victim.

The second shooting victim was also a west side gang member and called in the address of shots fired on the 2300 block of Diversey at Western. The Police from the 14th District on the west side of the river are still verifying this victim’s representation of the incident. There were no calls to 911 and during canvassing of the residents and businesses in the area Police found no witnesses.

We have been in touch with Cardinal Bernadin Early Childhood School, Prescott Elementary, and Alcott High School. Police have added additional cars to the area and specifically assigned a separate car for all three watches throughout the day and night. The schools have been in touch with the police to talk about the specifics of the crimes. I have asked that patrols be stepped up but the commander has limits on what he can put on the street to react to this particular incident on Diversey.

This neighborhood has improved greatly over the years, but there are still pockets of problem gang members and criminal elements they interact with that are adding to the burglaries and robberies. We have dealt with the individual gang homes over the years and the 19th District Police teams have done a good job of keeping them in check. The new Commander in the 19th is Marc Buslik and is aware of many of the crime issues related to these gang members and I think he will be proactive in going after the problem people.

While criminals are the underlying problem, our police department staffing has decreased over the past few years, including officer allocations to the 19th District that serves Lakeview, West DePaul and the Hamlin Park areas and includes three other aldermen. The 32nd Ward neighborhoods also include Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square; but all primarily in the 14th Police District.

Before the Mayor’s decision to merge the 19th District (station at Belmont and Western now at Halsted and Addison) and the 23rd District in 2012, the status of staffing allocation of CPD to the 19th District was about 470 officers over three shifts. The staffing was reduced to as low as 326 and has inched back up to about 370. At the time we were promised by then Superintendent McCarthy that the closing of the Belmont district would not lead to a reduction in officers. That was simply not true. Since then, strong arm robberies and burglaries are on the increase, and while they show a slight decrease over the past year, the long term outlook for adding officers is not good. The short term fix should be to temporarily saturate areas that are seeing higher crime in areas that have been relatively quiet for the past decade and continue to put more officers back to into the 19th District.

The Mayor is hiring around 480 new police officers over the next 2 years that will be allocated to districts throughout the City. The 1000 number that has been promoted in the media actually includes hundreds of already existing officers who will be promoted to fill depleted detective and supervisory officer ranks. These 400 new officers may be just enough to match retirement attrition rates. As I have mentioned in my weekly newsletters, I did vote for this 2017 budget because we will finally see hiring of officers that a handful of aldermen have been pushing for in council for several years. I did not support the last few budgets in part because of the reduction in officers in our communities while we spent hundreds of millions on a failed police overtime policy (and continue to do so) that did not benefit taxpayers and did little to stop citywide crime. We should be bringing back some of the proven methods of intervention where funding police overtime alone won’t solve the continual drain on resources.

I do work as closely as possible with our local police to get the staffing we need but there are problems that citizens should know about that are hindering a good response to the crime in our city. The Department of Justice report released last week shows we need a lot of improvements in training, supervision and other aspects of policing but doesn’t address the problems with entities of government, including city hall, city council, and other agencies. The report doesn’t address the fact that there has been a shell game played with citizens or aldermen who want to obtain and review annual police reports, staffing allocations or manpower numbers or much of the data needed to correctly run a billion dollar city department.

So while all of us want to see more patrols each day, we cannot get there until we get more answers about how the police department operates, change policies and staff to what is needed to make our neighborhoods safer again.

The next community police meeting for the neighborhood is not until March 15th at the old Belmont station 2450 W Belmont at 7 p.m. If you would like to speak directly to the CAPS officer Sgt. Mary Hein, she can be reached at (312) 744-0064, CAPS019District@chicagopolice.org,  chicagopolice.org 

My office staff or I can answer other questions you may have as well.

Alderman Scott Waguespack
32nd Ward
City of Chicago
2657 N Clybourn
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 248-1330

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