A Little Advice To Chicago Police Chief Gerry McCarthy

A Little Advice To Chicago Police Chief Gerry McCarthy

I was a south side Chicago resident for 32 years and still visit my old neighborhood of West Pullman several times a month. The violence in that and other neighborhoods is not new and cannot be solved by your police strategy (which you claim is working), and following it with your Compstat statistics is not the answer.

Understand that West Pullman has been known as "The Wild Hundreds" before you came here from the east coast. To fight crime you need to prevent it and to prevent it you need urban infrastructure, good schools, alternative programs for young people, jobs and resources for all including good grocery stores. I understand that's not your job but realize this area needs special attention.

Don't get me wrong, law enforcement is necessary but the first thing is that police districts need to be smaller. Having the one main (5th district), station on east 111th Street & the Bishop Ford Expressway is not enough. The station for the 22nd District (when it did cover West Pullman a few years ago), was good but there's needs to be a new station, ideally in the former Jewel Store at 115th & Halsted.

A police presence is good in the hood but not just unmarked squad cars speeding up and down 123rd Street. People need to see cops walking the beat and not just to deter crime but so people know their officers, so that people feel safe. Remember there a lot of abandoned houses in West Pullman, someone in uniform needs to stop by and check those out, not just when a 911 call is made but on the regular, just stick their head in.

Police need to stakeout the parks, you want to avoid that mass shooting from last week? Watch how the suburbs patrol, they keep a marked car in the park parking lot, just keeping an eye on things. Yes I know that's expensive but you know how much murders costs? It costs extra man hours for detectives, evidence technicians, lab work. It also means lost tourism dollars when our city is on the national news weekly for our crime problem that is more third world than the third biggest city in the country.

I'm from the area known as "The Duece", between 120th and 123rd, west of Halsted, that area needs constant police coverage, same with east of Halsted, part of that is "Dope City", your officers should know that. Yes there's a police camera right at 123rd & Halsted but officers need to be around there as much as possible.

Another hot spot is on 115th east of Halsted, some people call that "Trigger Town", its been bad a long time, I know I used to work at that Radio Shack on 116th & Halsted, at that time (over 15 years ago), we had good police coverage, the older officers used to come by daily on the day shift, check on us and every store in that strip mall. We all had a great relationship with the officers and that's the core of building trust in the community.

It works several ways Chief McCarthy, when businesses know they have the police protection they stay, when people know they can shop safely in an area, they invest in those businesses, when criminals know good cops are on the beat, they avoid those areas. And that reduces crime, simple as that.

Yes the city as a whole needs more cops and I'm not asking for Officer Friendly (though it won't hurt to have that program back in the schools again), just a good police presence and cops willing to get out of the cars and get to know everyone, good and bad. I'm aware of the neighborhood meetings with community members, my aunt is involved in that. But not everyone can make the meetings and its not the same as having visibility where its needed most.

People need to feel safe in their communities, not feeling helpless that shootings just happens here. You hear shots in West Pullman, day or night and people are desensitized. Now West Pullman has been on the decline for years and the influx of residents from the closed public housing projects just advanced that decline. So did the economy, bad housing loans and particularly bad public schools that chased many of us away.

But there are many good people in West Pullman, including relatives on mine, they believe in their city, they love their city, south siders are loyal but those who have stayed are tired of the violence.

Its not enough to have press conferences when a large crime happens and then you have the extra manpower to get those criminals, people need to see you in the streets too, your predecessors made their presence felt. Understand that small crimes happen all the time and when it happens to people you know it becomes a large crime to that person and their family.

Chicago is essentially a bunch of small towns, West Pullman used to be small town like (and in someways still is), people who have been there a while know each other, check on each other, help each other. The violence hasn't torn that thread of community. There have been private investments like the Kroc Center Salvation Army Center on 119th. But its not enough, the city has to support & protect this area.

See way back, this was plain working man's area, Carl Buddig Meats was manufactured on 119th & Peoria, International Harvester was on 120th & Peoria and right next door was Dutch Boy paints, all that was there until the 1980's. Up until very recently a steel plant was on 122nd & Morgan. And up and down 119th Street were fabricating plants, more heavy industry. Its what kept the neighborhood going. You have understand the history of this area, people were proud of West Pullman and many still are.

But its your job to protect & serve but not just be damage control when something bad happens.

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Filed under: Chicago

Tags: West Pullman

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    Charles W. Johnson

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