Stripped-down strategic deployment centers coming to 6 more police districts

SHARE Stripped-down strategic deployment centers coming to 6 more police districts

Six more police districts, including Rogers Park, will soon be home to a stripped-down version of the strategic deployment centers credited with driving down shootings and murders, but minus SpotShotter technology.

The Chicago Police Department classifies Rogers Park as a Tier 3 district when it comes to violent crime, even though a spree killer believed to be responsible for two random murders over a 36-hour period has terrorized residents.

Five other districts — Shakespeare, Albany Park, Near North, Town Hall and Lincoln — are also considered Tier 3 districts.

All six of those districts will now join the parade of Chicago police districts benefiting from “predictive analytics.”

They’ll be getting high-definition surveillance cameras, predictive software and mapping technology and station-based strategic nerve centers, each of them staffed by analysts from the University of Chicago Crime Lab and police officers who use that information to make deployment decisions.

The new cameras will not be equipped with ShotSpotter technology that automatically homes in on the sound of a gunshot.

But even with that missing piece, there is still potential to impact violent crime, according to a pilot program implemented in March in the Near West District after a wave of robberies, carjackings and gun violence, officials said.

The mayor’s office contends that, even without ShotSpotter, a station-based nerve center and additional surveillance cameras has produced across-the-board reductions in shooting incidents by 37 percent, murders by 64 percent, carjackings by 35 percent, burglaries by 20 percent and robberies by 15 percent.

“The districts … which have the ShotSpotter–those are districts with triple-digit shootings per year,” said deputy chief of staff Walter Katz, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s point-man on policing issues.

“What we’re trying to do is move the … technology into other districts, which have other challenges as well just like we did in the 12th District. … We’ve shown that, with these tools and the [strategic deployment center], they can be successful, even in districts which may not be high percentage shooting districts.”

Although Rogers Park residents have been terrorized by the recent spree killings, Katz argued that the melting pot of a neighborhood doesn’t really need ShotSpotter as much as districts like Englewood and Harrison.

“When you have neighborhoods that have hundreds of shootings-per-year, people just stop calling. You actually need the ShotSpotter to drive the police response to that location as quickly as possible,” he said.

“The difference with a neighborhood like Rogers Park with very infrequent shootings is that a lot of people call.”

The expansion to six more districts will be paid for with city funding baked into Emanuel’s final city budget and with a $10 million contribution to the Chicago’s crime-fighting technology from billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin.

It will bring strategic deployment centers to 19 of Chicago’s 22 police districts.

“Our smart policing strategy leveraging the power of data, technology and precision community-centric policing is allowing us to make considerable progress to reduce gun violence across our city,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was quoted as saying in a news release announcing the expansion.

Last year, six South and West Side districts that have been under siege by gang violence for decades were the first to get strategic deployment centers: Gresham, Englewood, Deering, Ogden, Harrison and Austin.

That was followed this year by a seven-district expansion to Wentworth, Grand Crossing, South Chicago, Calumet, Chicago Lawn, Near West and Grand Central.

The centers have been credited with helping to drive an 18 percent reduction in shooting victims and a 20 percent decline in murders through Sept. 30, compared to the same nine-month period last year.

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