This morning, Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown has developed exclusive and gut wrenching details of Sunday morning’s mob attack and double stabbing near the Belmont Red Line station, 945 W. Belmont.
CWB has learned that the stabbings and beatings could have been prevented if police officers had promptly responded to the future victims’ 911 call of an attempted cell phone theft. Shockingly, no officers were available to answer the call for help. For many long minutes, the two victims detained three phone thieves with the belief that police were on the way. The police never were.
The police department’s own spokesman told DNAinfo that the two soon-to-be victims were sitting on a curb near the L station when three males snatched one of their cell phones. The two victims pursued the thieves, caught them, and dialed 911.
Now, CWB can exclusively report the rest of the tragic story.
Police dispatchers broadcast the phone owner’s call to the district at 5:11AM as a cell phone theft or robbery with someone “holding the offender,” which means exactly what it says. We now know that the persons who were holding the offenders were soon to become the victims of a vicious mob attack.
Even though the theft and “holding the offender” call was broadcast at 5:11AM, not one officer was available to respond. About 10 minutes later, the dispatcher mentioned the cell phone theft and “holding the offender” again during a run down of calls that needed police action. Again, no one took the call.
It was during that estimated 10-plus minute delay that a mob of up to 30 people approached the victims and the detained thieves, then began the attack that ended with two stabbings.
CWB can also now reveal that the CTA didn’t have a single transit officer on duty on the North Side Sunday morning. Many nights, the CTA uses its transit officers to protect stations that are shuttered during the South Side Red Line construction project.
It Happens All of The Time
The 19th district runs out of cops and crime victims go without help on a regular basis, especially on weekend nights. The police department even has a name for situations when districts have no cops available. They’re called RAPs, which stands for Radio Assignments Pending.
Our district was under its second RAP of Sunday morning when the cell phone theft was called in at 5:11AM. The first RAP, declared around 2:40AM, lasted nearly 20 minutes.
RAPs are the result of gross understaffing in the 19th district, which has at least 25% fewer police officers today than it did in March of last year. Some of our officers have retired and quit without being replaced. Other officers have been pulled out of our neighborhood to work on units that cover the entire North Side of Chicago.
Now You Know One of the Reasons That “Crime Is Down”
And, then, there’s this: RAPs help create our politicians’ illusion of crime being “down.” And, yes, police department leaders are politicians in every sense of the word.
It’s deviously simple. The only crimes that are included in the police department’s crime statistics are crimes that are recorded in formal police reports. If there is no report, there isn’t a crime for the statistics.
Fewer cops available means responses are slower or non-existent. Slower responses increase the likelihood that victims will give up on filing a report, especially for minor crimes that have seen huge drops in reported cases.
No report or no response means “no crime occurred,” so the crime isn’t counted.
Lather. RAP. Repeat. Before long—Shazam!—crime is “down!”
The truly disgusting part is that it’s actually in our politicians’ personal interest not to fix the understaffing problem. If they fix it, more officers will be available, and then more reports will be filed, and crime will “go up.” They can’t have that at election time.
We actually keep a list of robberies that were reported to 911 in Wrigleyville and Boystown that will never show up in the crime count. Sometimes it’s because victims don’t want to bother with a report. But other times it’s because the police never showed up to help a citizen in need.
UPDATED 24 JUNE 2013: Rewrote second paragraph in an effort to unbury the lead.
UPDATED 26 JUNE 2013: Charges have been filed in the attack.