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Local Opinion

Last Week’s 17th District Police Meeting Was A Disappointment

By Mike Fourcher | Monday, January 23, 2012

Albany Park residents line up to ask the quesions they had already emailed to the district at last Wednesday's community meeting with Police Superintendent Gerry McCarthy. Credit: Sarah Tilotta

Do not clutter up my inbox. Submit your questions to the e-address provided so the commander and the superintendent can respond. Implication: “Or else you won’t be heard.”

That was the gist of 33rd Ward Alderman Dick Mell’s announcement of last Wednesday’s community meeting on safety. Shootings are more frequent, killings closer to home, muggings 24/7. Maybe cops should just teach gangbangers to shoot straight. Blue light cameras, red light cameras, no visible police presence. Five months of escalating complaints AND violence. Now comes Mell’s 15-day advance notice of a meeting on safety.

So I submitted my questions right away. No acknowledgement; no surprise. Later I wondered if any of the submitted questions ever got to any of the cops.

At the meeting, politicians solicited votes in the audience. On one side of the stage we had the politicians, a state senator plus four aldermen. On the other side were the city’s top cop, the top cop for the district plus the city’s chief deputy and the head of Chicago’s CAPS program, who never opened his mouth the whole evening.

The microphone was right there in front of the stage! Was it a signal that we would get no answers to our question submitted online?

Supt. Gerry McCarthy gave what must be his canned speech: Roots in the Bronx, he likes Chicago, policing by “group accountability” as applied to gangs where one bad act equals all gang members are bad actors and subject to special attention by cops. Oh yeah, we now have six levels of police reaching out to involve elected officials, faith-based organizations, schools, community organizations, community service providers, businesses.

Where have I heard that before? Before CAPS got totally politicized, back in the day when cops and citizens actually worked together, face to face. But CAPS Director Ronald Holt never opened his mouth; he wasn’t even glanced at.

17th District Cmdr. Melissa Staples said foot patrol officers are on Lawrence Ave. and admitted that Beats 23 and 24 were most problematic in the district. Yep, right in my very neighborhood, Irving Park Rd. to Lawrence, both sides of Kimball.

Her response to questions on visible presence of cops was that they’re “on the perimeter” when bad stuff goes down so they can more easily catch the bad guys. Right, and leave the victim writhing on the street.

The line for the open microphone was at least 40 people long. Jobs, more than safety, was the most frequent “want.” No surprise.

And that’s when it got to be a melodrama, what with the audience hissing and booing or applauding at responses to questions. Often beside the point, often obviously political, too often defensive.

Finally, mercifully, it was over. Out the doors, through the politicians and campaign workers thrusting promises not worth the paper they were printed on. Made me agree with Carol Marin’s piece a few days ago—“SCREWED!”

Nancy Snider is a Ravenswood Manor resident. Local Opinion pieces on neighborhood concerns should be submitted to mike@centersquarejournal.com.

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  • Anonymous

    Like so many other meetings  , it left us wanting. There was a lot of fluff but no stuff. We need answers not the run around. Alderman Mell has become infdifferent in this Ward, so how are the police to be any different. They need to earn a paycheck a.nd that is about all they do. Take up space and earn the paycheck. Crime is up and caring is down. 

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