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Aldermanic Race Zeros in on Police in Final Weeks

Katie Anthony | The PhoenixThe two candidates running for the 49th ward aldermanic seat have debated the topic of police presence in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

With less than a week left before the Feb. 26 Chicago elections, the two candidates vying to represent the 49th Ward, covering much of Rogers Park and Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, are going at it over police deployment — specifically, whether it’s a good idea to shift police from lower-crime districts into higher-crime districts in the city.

Ald. Joe Moore, the 28-year incumbent facing a challenge from newcomer Maria Hadden, recently released an ad highlighting what Moore says is Hadden’s position: That she’s OK with moving cops out of Rogers Park into other areas of the city.

The ad claims Hadden supports “moving police from Rogers Park to other neighborhoods, meaning fewer patrols and less detectives.”

Moore said he thought the ad was necessary to point out a difference between his and Hadden’s potential policies to 49th Ward residents.

“The fact that my opponent is willing to consider deploying officers from Rogers Park to other neighborhoods, I think is a mistake,” Moore said. “The fact that it does not appear she would object to that is concerning, and I thought it was important to highlight that difference with my opponent.”

Hadden responded to the ad in a blog post on her website and told The Phoenix she believes it was a misrepresentation of her beliefs.

“That video frames it as I want to send detectives out of the neighborhood, even though we got more detectives [following the shootings], and it was really misconstrued,” Hadden said.

Hadden’s referencing a surge of extra police to Rogers Park following two unsolved back-to-back homicides last fall that shook the community.

Hadden said that serves as an example of police reallocation in action.

“We live in a city with finite resources and crime does not abide by ward boundaries and political borders,” the post said. “Public safety resources are allocated by need using data from reported crime statistics and 911 calls. That’s the way it should be.”

In January, both candidates submitted responses to an Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) questionnaire, one question asked, “Do you support reallocating police services from low-crime to high-crime neighborhoods?” to which Hadden checked yes and Moore checked no.

The issue was also brought up during an aldermanic debate between Moore and Hadden Jan. 15 — in which Moore stood by his position of “not losing police to other communities” and Hadden said she supported “allocating police resources in a more equitable way.”

Moore was a pioneer in community policing in Chicago, making the 49th Ward one of the first areas of the city to implement the practice which assigns officers to specific areas and allows them to become more familiar with the neighborhood and its residents.

Community policing resulted in a 54 percent reduction in serious crime in Rogers Park, Moore claims on his website. He also pushed for beefed-up policing technology in the neighborhood following the two homicides last fall.

But recent efforts and studies have shown policing to be more effective in reducing actual crime when police are moved to “hotspot” areas, according to Dr. Christopher Donner, an assistant professor in Loyola’s criminal justice and criminology department and an expert in American law enforcement.

“Reallocation is basically just making decisions about where to best put those resources. So you’re going to take them from some areas and put them in other areas because we know that crime and calls for service are not equally distributed,” Donner said.

Donner said focusing police on areas that statistics show have the most crime is more effective than equally distributed officers, a tactic CPD has used in the past.

“What the research tends to show is that hotspot policing — going after specific areas, going after [repeat] offenders, going after specific types of crime — is the more effective model than the standard model of equally dispersed patrol officers,” Donner said.

Donner said while all types of crime — violent crime, property crime, gun crime and others — might decrease, reallocation could have effects on residents perception of “fear, safety and police satisfaction.” Most people feel safer when they see officers in their neighborhood, Donner said.

In a statement to The Phoenix, Chicago Police Department Public Information Officer Howard Ludwig said they consider many factors when considering where to place officers.

“The Chicago Police Department allocates its resources and manpower based on need,” Ludwig said. “Of course some districts are busier than others. Some districts are geographically larger than others. There are many factors to consider, including the police contract.”

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