Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is exploring the politically volatile idea of closing district police stations to save millions and free scores of officers for street duty.Here's a comment from Ald. Anthony Beale. The 9th Ward is home to the Calumet police station:
McCarthy is under the gun to cut at least $190 million from the police department’s $1.3 billion-a-year budget. He is under further pressure to put more police officers on beat patrol at a time when the city can’t afford to hire more officers.
Chicago has 25 police districts, each with its own station. O.W. Wilson, the city’s first civilian superintendent, bit the bullet in 1960 and closed several stations, leaving only 20. Five have been added since then.
For every station closed, dozens of officers could be made available for street duty. Building maintenance, utilities and renovation costs also would be reduced.
Asked whether he was considering closing stations, McCarthy said, “We’re looking at everything .”
Other high-ranking officials confirm that police station closings are under serious consideration and that the “dynamic and complex” decision would be based not just on the age of the buildings but also on demographics and crime in the surrounding neighborhood.
Sources familiar with the current deliberations refused to identify the stations that could be closed or pinpoint the precise number being talked about. The oldest stations are: Monroe, Prairie, Wood, Belmont, Wentworth, Harrison, Rogers Park, Calumet and Grand Crossing.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), former chairman of the City Council’s Police Committee, said he, too, could support station closings provided there would be “no lapse in public safety.”Do you think closing and consolidating police districts is a good idea?
“I do believe with this consolidation you could have more officers on the street because you [now] have people duplicating administrative services,” Beale said.
But he warned, “No comamunity will want to lose their station. That’s where you might run into problems. You have to sell this. You have to educate the community that it’s not the building that protects the people. It’s the officers being out on the street.”