Austin residents call for equal emergency services, police in Chicago Tribune opinion article

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Ron and Serethea Reid of the Central Austin Neighborhood Association called for all neighborhoods in Chicago to receive equal emergency services and protection from the police in a Chicago Tribune opinion article Monday.

In the article, “A simple strategy– smarter police deployment,” the Reids said a recent Chicago Sun-Times evaluation of police deployment in the city shows the number of beat officers has fallen in Austin’s 15th Police District.

In September 2011, the data showed Austin’s district had 296 beat cops, up from 280 at the beginning of 2011. That number decreased to 270 as of October 2012. Citywide the number has dropped from 6,746 beat cops at the beginning of 2011 to 6,638 as of Oct. 15, 2012.

The Reids said they are also concerned about what they say is a slow 911 call response time from the police in the area.

“Time and again over the past few years, we have phoned 911 to report illegal activity outside our home or on our block,” the Reids said in the article. “Police rarely respond.”

The Reids added that the city “refuses to tell taxpayers the basis on which it deploys police.”

“We are entitled to transparency on the issue of deployment,” the Austin residents said in the article. “We have a right to equal services and to the information that allows us to measure service levels. The city wants cooperation in solving crimes, but it creates mistrust by not providing equal services and refusing to tell us why.”

In an attempt to increase the number of police in areas prone to violence, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois along with members of the Central Austin Neighborhood Association filed a lawsuit against the city in 2011. The court sided with city, the Sun-Times reported, stating the issue is up to voters to address, not the court. The ACLU and advocates disagree and have appealed the decision.

Read AustinTalks’ “Fate of police deployment, 911 police responsiveness lawsuit uncertain” for more information on the lawsuit.

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