Staff Editorial

STAFF EDITORIAL: Protecting Rogers Park Leaves South Side Overlooked

 It’s great the city has swelled police resources on the North Side following the Rogers Park murders a few weeks ago, but more often than not, a weekend on the South Side dwarfs the North Side in killings, with little to no reallocation of resources.

Following the Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 random shooting deaths of Douglass Watts, 73, and Eliyahu Moscowitz, 24, by the same perpetrator, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) saturated Rogers Park with police patrols, announced an increase in cameras to capture crimes on tape and assigned 40 detectives to work tips in the area.

The South Side, which sees fatal shooting deaths on a near-daily occurrence, doesn’t get the outpouring of support that Rogers Park has garnered in the murders’ wakes. 

Maybe it’s because the violence is often gang-related, so in some perverse way citizens can assign a reason to it. Maybe it’s because the South Side is largely black, while the North Side is generally whiter.

We can’t know for sure.

What we do know for sure is that 28 people were shot, eight fatally, just this weekend in Chicago, many on the South Side. It’s rare that anyone gets arrested and charged from these daily shootings.

Gun violence and shooting deaths are more commonplace on the South and West Sides. There have been nearly 2,500 people shot in Chicago this year — more than 400 fatally — and that violence is largely concentrated to the South and West Sides, according to crime data compiled by the Chicago Tribune.

Having more police resources working an area can often contribute to safer neighborhoods and an increase in solved crimes.

Last week, five men carjacked a woman in Edgewater. Police who were already nearby investigating the Rogers Park shootings reportedly responded and pursued the men in a car down Lake Shore Drive where they eventually caught and arrested them.

A South Side alderman urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel to permanently boost the police presence in violence-ridden South and West Sides after 71 people were shot, 12 fatally, largely there in Chicago’s bloodiest weekend of 2018 from Aug. 3-6, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at the time there’d be a temporary boost of 600 police officers in those violent areas. But even then, it wouldn’t be permanent, and, after most bloody weekends, there isn’t a huge shift in resources.

“We cannot continue to just move things around temporarily to get us past the weekend. We need a bold approach to make the entire city safe by putting `em where they’re needed and not where they’re wanted,” said Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward) in the Sun-Times article.

But North Side representatives have pushed back. In that same Sun-Times article, Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward) from the far Northwest Side said police would be relocated from his ward “over my dead body.”

“Just because we don’t have homicides and shootings doesn’t mean we’re not escalating in other crimes,” Napolitano said.

Of course, this imbalance in the allocation of resources by the CPD is nothing particularly new to Chicago; CPD has a history of giving disproportionate amount of discretion to its officers and disproportionately allocating resources to majority white neighborhoods and wards. 

Often times, this wasn’t necessarily based on need or level of violence, but rather — as most things have been in the Windy City — because of politics. Mayor Richard J. Daley was especially known for only giving necessary resources to the wards and aldermen who had done him a political favor. 

Race was a factor into this as well, as Daley’s racial prejudices moved him to give the most amount of funding and resources to predominantly white neighborhoods, leaving black and hispanic communities starved for support from the city. 

While CPD has made strides since that era, in other regards it still continues. 

While North Side wards enjoy bolstered police resources in the wake of brutal violence, and that’s essential, the South Side shouldn’t have to justify or beg for it given much worse circumstances.

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