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Guest Comment

Open Letter From a 6th District Resident To Councilwoman Laura Richardson-Batts received the following open letter from a LB resident of the 6th district, addressed to his Councilmember, Laura Richardson-Batts. The letter references news events we reported first among LB media.

Today there was a second shooting in just two days in South Wrigley. Two shootings in two days less than four blocks from each other.

Laura, you and your staff personally committed to more police patrols in this neighborhood after I was attacked in February. You also made a commitment to bring more cops to the Wrigley area and the rest of the Sixth District at the Wrigley Association meeting on April 1.

At that meeting, you gave yourself applause for a performance a week or so earlier at a City Council meeting (captured on film for later use), where you tried but failed to raise the level of discussion about officer deployment in this big city.

At that moment, I was standing outside, two blocks away from my home with groceries in hand, begging a cop to escort me home, because I could not drive or walk through the eight square block perimeter the SWAT team had set up on Pacific and 21st.

That day, a neighborhood market got robbed. The robber supposedly got away after dropping a shotgun and the stolen cash in a nearby alley. I eventually got inside my home. But there were still 40 families sleeping in cars along Pacific Avenue until after 3 a.m. because the SWAT team, in an astonishing show of force, occupied my neighborhood looking for a thief in the dark for 11 hours. All the while, my neighbors were forced to have dinner, change diapers, and read their kids homework in their cars.

Those fortunate enough to be close to home when the robbery took place, got to see and hear over 100 SWAT team personnel and dozens of LBPD cops driving down the middle of streets, telling everyone to get in the house and close their doors over a bullhorn. BTW, I snapped one frightening picture of a some soldiers (not LBPD cops) with M-16s, hanging off an armored tank of some sort.

Ignoring these crimes is unacceptable. You should be alarmed and embarrassed.

You need to become much more visible and articulate on crime and public safety issues. You need to cajole your Council colleagues into demanding an immediate and substantial increase in budgeting for police staffing and recruitment. And, you need to push the Council and City Manager to designate and guarantee a specific numeric increase from the current sworn cops [ note: Auditor's report: 771 sworn actually working Feb '02; 40 graduating recruits should bring to approx. 811; remainder disabled or non-sworn out of 913.5 budgeted] to somewhere between 1,000 and up to 1,200 officers by the end of 2003.

The whole city is threatened by crime and violence, and you would seem to have much to gain from supporting the Department and working to make it better, bigger and more professional. But are you?

It's been suggested that you've done more for the 6th District in two years than has been accomplished in the past 50 years. That's a bold claim. Where is the proof?

Mr. Lester is a 6th district resident and Neighborhood Watch organizer.

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