In September, lame duck Mayor Richard Daley said he wanted Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) officers reassigned to patrol neighborhood streets. CAPS officers, as a reminder, are meant to connect with Chicago residents at beat-level meetings held monthly, gleaning and sharing information with them about local public safety issues.
Daley's CAPS reassignment has taken place, and some residents aren't happy about the changes. AustinTalks, a start-up news website covering the West Side neighborhood of Austin, reported that top brass in the department's 15th District recently moved three officers from its CAPS program. A number of community leaders are concerned that the relationships they had built up will fray and communications between neighbors and police will diminish. "I like to have that one-on-one connection to help fortify trust, being able to speak to an officer and develop a rapport,” Phillip Burke, a block club captain, told the site.
Police leaders in the 15th are seeking additional support from neighbors, to help make up the difference. But they're grappling with a broader issue too. A sergeant in the district told AustinTalks the 15th now has 264 officers, down from 345 in 2006. Citywide, of course, the size of the police force continues to decline, despite plans to hire more officers next year. Violent and property crimes are also down in the 15th (PDF), according the department's numbers, but there still were 1,176 violent incidents and 2,144 property crimes there through September, making it the fourth most (PDF) crime-ridden district in Chicago.