Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged Thursday that a drop in homicides and overall crime is not being felt in some Chicago neighborhoods and said the temporary infusion of 40 state troopers is aimed at bridging the gap.
“Lowest homicide rate in the first seven months since 1963. Lower crime rate by 30 percent in the last three years and lower than it’s been in 10 years. Lower than its been in 20 years. But that doesn’t mean the communities most affected are feeling 30 percent safer or 1963-level safety of homicides,” Emanuel said.
“So, my focus is to make sure we have the partnerships, the resources and the policing going into the communities that need it most to deal with guns, drugs and gangs.”
Forty state troopers — dressed in plainclothes and riding alongside Chicago Police officers in unmarked CPD vehicles — started serving fugitive warrants Thursday, under a partnership that could last for 60 days, twice as long as originally planned.
The troopers are assigned to overlapping, 10-hour shifts — starting at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. — in four crime-ridden Chicago Police districts: Englewood, Austin, Calumet and Gresham.
They will be housed in an undisclosed suburban motel during a 30-day deployment that could double if the partnership succeeds in getting known criminals off the street.
The Chicago Police Department’s fugitive apprehension unit currently includes 77 officers. The temporary infusion of state troopers will bolster those numbers by 52 percent.
The troopers, including one woman, will use CPD radios and be drawn from districts across the state to avoid draining any one area at a time when, a police union leader claims the state is 600 troopers short.
Police union leaders have called the partnership a Band-Aid approach that will do nothing to solve a shortage of police officers at both ends. Emanuel balanced his first budget by elimination more than 1,400 police vacancies.
But the mayor maintained Thursday that partnerships across law enforcement agencies are “natural” and have already produced big dividends.
“Last week, the Gangster Disciples were taken down on the West Side — 31 of `em — between the feds and local Chicago Police Department…We took a major gang operation and now, they’re gonna be prosecuted at both the federal court and the local court,” the mayor said.
“There are existing partnerships between law enforcement that actually have consequences in reducing gangs, guns and helping us build on the progress we’re making [to] make sure it’s felt in every neighborhood so every family enjoys the level of safety they need…. We have way too many guns, way too many gangs and way too drugs on the streets. While we are having progress, it’s not being felt across the city.”
The mayor’s comments about the gap between the perception and reality of crime echoed comments made by Police Supt. Garry McCarthy at a City Council hearing earlier this month.
On the hot seat to defend police crime statistics, McCarthy talked of a city unfairly known as the murder capital of the world that had actually closed the books on July with a 7 percent drop in murders over the same period a year ago and the lowest number of murders since 1963.
The turnaround story was a tough sell with aldermen six months from re-election whose constituents don’t feel any more safe. They peppered McCarthy with sometimes hostile questions about a spike in shootings and robberies.