Chicago mayors have talked for decades about putting more cops where calls for service are the highest, only to drop the issue.
No one’s been willing to take the heat for redeploying cops.
Now Chicago police Supt. David Brown is laying that groundwork — but in a politically timid way that will take years to accomplish.
In briefings last week, Chief of Operations Brian McDermott and First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter told aldermen high-crime districts would get more manpower as rookies graduate from the academy and begin 13-month probationary periods.
It would take about two years to get South and West Side police districts — where shootings and drug dealing are worst — the levels of manpower they need.
Sources said a model designed by the University of Chicago Crime Lab called for a more radical approach.
In a recently completed pro-bono study of police manpower, the U of C created a formula that includes calls for service, total violent crime in the area, population size and attrition of retiring officers.
The model called for reassigning veterans and rookies immediately, based on those and other factors. It concluded CPD has the manpower now to staff high-crime districts at proper levels, even after a recent wave of retirements.
The U of C Crime Lab declined to comment, referring questions to the Chicago Police Department. The police department did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Sources said Brown favors a go-slow approach that amounts to the political path of least resistance.
In a PowerPoint presentation distributed to aldermen, Brown’s approach is called “incremental change” in which “districts will not lose officers.”
“Units are ranked from ‘busiest’ to ‘least busy’ based on call-for-service data,” according to the presentation. “Additional officers are assigned to districts with the busiest units, considering relief factor and unit size.”
The department will continue assigning cops to districts with the busiest beats until “all units spend [less than] 60 percent of time on calls.”
Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, said he’d prefer to see the long-awaited reallocation of police manpower accomplished more quickly to stop the gang violence plaguing the West Side.
But Ervin is also a political realist.
“I understand that we can’t just rob Peter to pay Paul. We’ve got to pay everybody. Based on the manpower that comes out [of the police academy] — I can understand them doing it that way,” Ervin said.
“We’re still keeping up with a massive rate of attrition and some other things that have to occur. The department has a huge challenge on its hands. And we can’t just take officers totally out of one place and put them all in another place. It doesn’t solve our challenges overall.”
Ervin said districts like Harrison, Austin, Englewood and South Chicago have “traditionally been training districts.”
“I don’t have an issue with probationary officers or officers fresh out of their probationary period coming into the districts as long as they’re properly supervised and adequately trained,” he said.