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Chicago police to respond to lesser crimes via phone

- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2013

Amid a recent wave of murders, Chicago is implementing a dramatic change to how police respond to 911 calls — only dispatching officers to the most serious crimes.

Beginning Sunday, officers are no longer responding in person to reports of vehicle theft, garage burglary, simple assault or a crime in which the victim is "safe, secure and not in need of medical attention" and the offender is "not on the scene and not expected to return immediately," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Instead, those reports will be dealt with over the phone by another department. The move reportedly will free up the equivalent of 44 police officers a day to respond to more serious crimes.

The changes are expected to help Chicago police run more efficiently, but aldermen are bracing for political backlash.

"I can understand if it's [to report] somebody spray-painted my trash can. But, people want to see an officer when it gets up to a certain level of crime. They're setting the bar pretty high for police not to respond," Alderman Scott Waguespack told the Sun-Times.

"When you're talking about someone's garage being broken into and you've had three or four neighbors with the same thing, people have an expectation of having an officer on location to assess the situation. If no officer shows up, they're gonna assume it's gonna keep happening. They'll feel this is scaling back even more. There'll be a lot of people angry."

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