A number of Chicago residents are scratching their heads this snowy Monday morning, wondering why it is they’re paying taxes to reside here. Hal Dardick and Jeremy Gorner reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:
The Chicago Police Department hopes to free up the equivalent of 44 officers a day by no longer dispatching police for certain crimes, like burglaries and car thefts, in which the offender is no longer at the scene and no one is in immediate danger.
Police confirmed the change, which takes effect Sunday…
Crimes that will no longer result in the dispatch of an officer to the scene include car theft, garage burglaries, criminal damage to property, the passing of bad checks and lewd, obscene or threatening phone calls that don’t pose an immediate danger, [City Hall spokesman Bill] McCaffrey said.
As far as I know, CPD officers haven’t been dispatched on certain calls for a while now. A couple of years ago my car was rear-ended and damaged by another vehicle down the street from my Northwest Side pad and I was instructed by dispatch to drive to the nearest district station to inform them of what happened and file a report there. It could have been that the district was swamped with calls that day, but seeing that it was a lazy Sunday afternoon right after a Bears game, I’m not so sure.
Dardick and Gorner added:
Officers will be dispatched if a suspect is still at the scene or is expected to return immediately, McCaffrey added. They’ll also go to the scene if the victim is not considered safe or needs medical attention, and when it appears as if the officer could make an immediate arrest or an immediate investigation is warranted, he said.
One word comes to mind here when I read this. “Emboldened.” Think about it. Before yesterday, a Chicago resident reports a burglary/criminal damage to property, police arrive in the neighborhood and at the scene of the crime. Any bad guy with half a brain has split. Now, resident reports a burglary/criminal damage to property, police might not be dispatched on the call (time will tell and word will get out about whether or not the cops are responding to such crimes in the neighborhood). If that turns out to be the case, some bad guys might stick around and “go for two”- resulting in more crime. Here’s hoping I’m wrong about this.
Finally, there’s this from that Tribune piece:
When no officer is sent to the crime scene, a report will be taken over the phone by officers assigned to light duty. Last year, 74,000 reports were taken that way. The new rules are expected to more than double that number.
In my past life, I’ve worked with and supervised a number of cops and firefighters in different Chicago-area municipalities who were assigned to light duty. In many cases, the prevailing attitude was “you might as well bring me around back and shoot me now.” Subsequently, their performance in this temporary assignment wasn’t exactly stellar. I get it- it sucks, and as first responders it’s not their thing. A number of comments I’ve read on articles about the new dispatching guidelines claim police reports are going to go way up now that Chicago residents can just phone them in.
I’ll believe that when I see it.
In the meantime, I’m preparing myself to be placed on hold for eternity, being dumped into voicemail, even getting a busy signal perhaps, should I ever need to phone in and file another police report here in the “Windy City.”
By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)
Dardick, Hal and Gorner, Jeremy. “Chicago hopes to free up cops with shift in 911 dispatch strategy.” Chicago Tribune. 3 Feb. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-police-911-changes-0203-20130203,0,2236038.story). 4 Feb. 2013.
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