Several dozen community members attended the June 3 19th Police District CAPS meeting, as neighborhood residents looked ahead to the Chicago Pride Parade and discussed a murder that hit residents of the area particularly hard.
Many in attendance, including Ald. Tom Tuney ( 44th ), commended CPD on apprehending Kristopher K. Pitts, of the 1100 block of N. Central Park Ave., who now faces one count each of first-degree murder and armed robbery. He allegedly shot and killed Kevin O. O'Malley, of suburban Palos Park, reportedly over the robbery of a mobile phone in the early morning of May 30.
"The police work was tremendous," Tunney said. "I believe the police were on the scene in minutes … I went to the wake last night and there was nothing but compliments."
Many were concerned about the presence of police in the district as the days and nights get warmer over the summer. About 300 officers are assigned to the district, but officials have said staffing and attrition issues leave commanders hamstrung in efficiently scheduling coverage for the district. Some in the audience asked whether extra officers could be assigned or reassigned on the basis of the weather; District Commander Robert Cesario said it would not be possible because of the scheduling rules.
Tunney said that he had written to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and asked for additional police resources but nevertheless found himself in the hot seat. One audience member asked, "What the hell took you so long?"
The alderman answered that the request was a reiteration of an ongoing one. "We have been getting new resources," he said, adding that he hoped to be a "squeaky wheel" to apply more pressure to city hall.
"Are you guys really fighting [Emanuel]?" an audience member asked Tunney and Ald. James Cappleman ( 46th ). "Are you giving him enough pressure? Somebody else is going to get killed the next nice day, when we're not paying attention."
Cappleman answered, "The 19th district has five neighborhoods. It's a fairly large police district. Where there is more crime, there is more police deployed. In the hot spots, there is police presence."
Police officials discussed some of the previously announced preparations for the Chicago Pride Parade on June 28.
"[In terms of the route] Everything is going to be the same," said Sergeant Jason Clark. " [But] We did get a commitment for 90 extra officers… and then we have secondary plans."
Several sites where crowds can congregate and become unruly will get the extra coverage the day of the parade, he added. Those include several alleys, the 7/11 parking lot at Roscoe and Halsted and the Dunkin' Donuts at Clark and Belmont.
Additionally, alcohol checkpoints will be set up at various entrances. Christopher Barrett Politan of North Halsted Business Alliance said those were "more of an optics issue than an enforcement issue," and were intended to establish a tone of responsible celebration.
Clark also said that preparations were underway to support Pride at Montrose, the re-branded Belmont Rocks, which will take place at Cricket Hill at Montrose Beach Park that same day. "This is the first time we've been able to meet with organizers," he said.