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Trilogy of Police, Public Officials and People: 13th Police District's fate hangs…or does it? Part Two
Prior to McCarthy's arrival at the Town Meeting in the Ukrainian Cultural Center, both 1st Ward Alderman Proco Joe" Moreno and 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack spoke to those gathered for the Rally. Other Aldermen have spoken up as well.
"We want to keep this area safe, we know these officers and we want to have this community continue to rise and not be punished for its success," said Moreno. Waguespack urged the crowd to "Ask strong questions about how we are going to be protected."
When asked what he hoped for the evening Waguespack said, "...direct explanation from the Superintendent and Mayor's office about why they feel consolidating the districts is important. The Mayor decided he didn't need to speak to the aldermen or the public but went to the media....hopefully tonight they tell people reality instead of throwing out numbers."
When asked what he hoped would come out of the meeting 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti said, "I wish I could hope but hope doesn't make a reality when two immoveable forces come together -- Administration and community. Guess who wins."
During the question and answer part of the meeting, Moreno indicated that a lot of residents have talked with him about concern for the 13th District building. He said that he has challenged the Superintendent, is working with the city and other aldermen on an idea about how that building can be used in the future. "It is not a promise right now but an idea I hope to work on. To spend my menu money to make that facility a park with a satellite police office." Shouts from the crowd against the idea included statements like "No...You have already given up!" He continued by saying that some people do not like this idea but alternatives must be looked at even though he thinks the station can still be saved.
Waguespack closed the meeting saying that this was the first time a police superintendent came to a public meeting in the 13th and 14th Police Districts ant that Superintendent's participation says alot about his willingness to make this an open process.
After the meeting, Walter Burnett, 26th Ward Alderman, who lives in the 13th Police District, commented that , "We don't have much control over what the Police Department does, but I would like to see more police on the streets where I live. But it is a balancing act and I have to talk with the people in my area."
Alderman of the 26th Ward, Roberto Maldonado was not at the meeting, stated pessimism on Fox News about the efficiency both McCarthy and Wysinger claim. The Mayor said twenty more police officers would be put on the streets as a result of closing three police stations but he is concerned that the officers would not be assigned to cover the 13th District. Maldonado also stated that it takes half a police shift to process an arrestee under the current system. With a station closure, it would take even longer to bring a suspect to the police station.
Distance between the north end of the current 13th district (Division Street -- 1200 north) and the new station being built in the 12th district at Blue Island, Racine and 14th St. was questioned repeatedly at the Town Meeting. McCarthy's response was consistently that the officers would be "in their beats, not at the station."
For more information: Part One