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Tuesday, August 4

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Police Fri Nov 04 2011

Residents Rally to Save 13th District Police Station

In an attempt to close the Chicago's budget gap, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) announced that three district stations are being considered for closure. Among these stations is the 13th district station at 937 N. Wood St. and the proposed closure of that particular station has prompted residents who live in the district to join together to save the station.

In response to the proposed closing, a group of residents led by Anne Shaw have joined together to create Save the Wood Street Station.

"We have the second lowest number of beat officers in all of the 25 districts and we have a higher crime rate than the 12th district," Shaw said, referring to the district the 13th district would hypothetically be merged with.

The other locations planned for closure are the 21st and 19th district stations. According to CPD spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton, one of the factors taken into consideration when looking at what district stations to close was the ability of a neighboring district to absorb the district. The CPD also looked at crime statistics and selected districts with low levels of crime compared to the rest of the city that, when merged with other districts, would still be manageable.

Hamilton said the consolidation of 25 districts into 22 districts would save the CPD up to $5 million.

Shaw believes that because the buildings would still be standing, the only way the City could really save $5 million is if they also lay off police officers. The station, which was built in 1960, currently costs the city approximately $190,000 in maintenance and utilities.

The closures still need to be approved by the city council. If the council does not approve the closures, the CPD will work on trying to be more efficient while trying to reduce crime in Chicago, according to Hamilton.

But Shaw and others with Save the Wood Street Station have found the closure of the 13th District Station would possibly make the police less efficient. Shaw and various volunteers have done drive tests to see how long a round-trip route from the planned site of the new 12th District Station to the 13th district, such as a beat cop would make, would take. During Wednesday's test, the route took 40 minutes without heavy traffic and long waits at stoplights.

The transit times for officers would obviously be much lower if the 13th District Station remained open, Shaw noted.

If the stations are closed, the CPD will assign officers currently on desk duty to being beat officers, according to Hamilton. Shaw said that there are about eight to 10 officers working at the desks for the 13th District Station and pointed out the possibility those officers might retire.

"If you have less officers, you're better off not doing things that will reduce response time," Shaw said.

Shaw believes that there are other ways to deal with the budget than closing the station and said that there is more than $700 million in uncollected debts owed to the City.

The fight to keep the station open doesn't seem like one that will go down easily.

"We are very close to our officers," Shaw said. "Alderman Burnett said he's never seen a more dedicated group of people. We know the officers, we go to CAPS meetings."

There will be a march on Sunday, Nov. 6 to oppose closing the station. The march will start at 2:30pm in front of the 13th District Station.

 
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