The Town Hall police station in Boystown will be the headquarters of a much larger police district starting Mar. 4 as part of the Chicago Police Department’s plan to consolidate police districts.
The CPD will consolidate the 19th Belmont and 23rd Town Hall districts and will be based at 850 N. Addison St. The newly redrawn 19th District bordered by Lawrence in the North, Fullerton in the South, and flanked by the Chicago River and Lake Michigan on either side, will retain the historic Town Hall name.
The modified district will cover Lakeview (with its Boystown and Wrigleyville enclaves), Uptown, North Center and Lincoln Park. Beats and their beat numbers will also change, reflecting more recent, block-by-block crime statistics.
“We believe that consolidation of the 19th and 23rd districts will make a positive impact on our community,” said Maureen T. Martino, executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. “The increase of more cars and beat officers in areas that were not traditionally covered will decrease the response time and also have a visible presence in our area.”
Major changes to the district structure have not been made in 31 years. However, the changes would remove “unnecessary bureaucracy and optimize the beat structures, designing them around the changing needs of the community,” according to material published by CPD.
“This change will allow the district to strategically place officers in key areas such as public transit stations and communicate more effectively into the veins of the community,” said Martino.
In recent years, crime has been a major issue for Boystown-area residents, just as it has been for other Chicago neighborhoods. Consolidation is seen as a step to improving public safety.
In a July 6, 2011 CAPS meeting for Beats 2324 and 2331 at the Inter-American Magnet School, some of nearly 800 neighborhood residents expressed anger at percieved increases in crime. The Center On Halsted’s youth programming, which draws teens to Boystown from other neighborhoods, was also a questioned factor. Many others defended youth programming at the LGBT community center but agreed more had to be done to reduce and prevent criminal activity.
Rob Sall, an activist from Take Back Boystown is not yet convinced about the effectiveness of the consolidation.
“How consolidation will affect crime or the neighborhood is only speculation,” said Sall “Until it happens and is in place, I don’t think anyone can make that guess. Hopefully it will reduce crime, but it’s a test at this point.”
Chicago Phoenix asked Sall if Take Back Boystown might organize anti-crime activities again as the weather gets warmer.
“It might, depending on the level of activity in the neighborhood,” he said. “If there is a rash of violence, then I would expect it to be as hot as it was last year.”
The CPD says consolidation and redesign of beat borders will put more officers on the streets. The 44th Ward Office issued a map showing the new boundaries with Boystown divided into three: Beats 1923, 1924 and 1925.
Beat integrity is a point stressed by CPD.
“Keeping the same officers assigned to a beat, ensuring that officers remain on the beat and become familiar with residents, allows police officers to proactively address crime and other issues.”
Resources will also be affected.
“With additional officers being deployed for field duty, district commanders will be able to mobilize additional vehicles.” CPD adds, “More cars on the street results in faster response to appropriate 911 calls.”
Four additional police districts are being consolidated in Chicago. 21st Prairie will be merged with 2nd Wentworth on the South Side and 9th Deering will be absorbed into 1st Central near the Downtown area. The entire city will be divided into three area commands instead of the current five.