Shortage of equipment. Shortage of officers. Prioritizing downtown over neighborhoods. Nature abhors a vacuum. Those neighborhoods are being filled by people taking it upon themselves to defend themselves and gangs are stepping in.
Hours after the Tribune’s story was published online, Ahern told the newspaper in an emailed statement that 48% of officers deployed downtown over the summer have since been sent back to the districts, including tactical teams.
“Superintendent Brown has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated CPD’s commitment to our neighborhoods and residents,” Ahern said in the statement. “To imply that the safety and protection of the downtown districts is of higher importance than any of our other neighborhoods throughout Chicago is categorically false.”
Police sources have said the department’s downtown deployment plan over the summer following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota, and subsequent demonstrations and looting, has left a shortage of cops in some districts, raising concern among officers that they won’t be able to provide timely police service in neighborhoods. Over the years, patrol districts have routinely struggled to meet the demand for police service.
The rationale behind Friday’s tactical team policy appeared to deal in part with a shortage of police cars in the districts. Before the policy was canceled, it called for those officers to ride in marked squad cars when they normally patrol in unmarked cars. But if no marked cars were available, they were to ride up to four cops per unmarked squad car.
That meant a district whose tactical team normally operates with six squad cars could be reduced to three. That also further diminishes the number of cops in each neighborhood available to respond to 911 calls.