Tough target: Wood Street police station

When residents gather at the Wood Street police station Wednesday for the monthly East Village CAPS meeting, crime is likely to take a back seat to the cop shop itself.

The 13th District station house at 937 N. Wood might be eliminated in next year's city budget, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel submits to the City Council this month. Although the location has been a target for a generation, reports of its potential lockdown have prompted circulation of an "Act Now" handbill in the neighborhood.

Modernizing the 13th squad would be more economical than a distant relocation, according to the broadside, and its closing would lead to "reduced police responsiveness ... an erosion of public safety and more 'broken windows' in this great neighborhood."

Anne Shaw, a local attorney, has created an online petition to save the Wood Street station. There's a Facebook page where you can "Like" the 13th District, and a growing comment board on EveryBlock.

The flier suggests that neighbors contact the local aldermen (linked at left), the police superintendent, the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor's office and the East Village Association.

Wood Street's status indeed was an issue in Monday's EVA meeting. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno has asked the city to spell out its 13th District intentions, said Ronda Locke of the 1st Ward office. Locke says Moreno intends to keep the station house open.

"We're being punished for having an active community and good police officers," said EVA vice president Neal McKnight, suggesting that its low crime rate put the district at risk for consolidation.

EVA was challenged on its position, restated here last month, to retain the site for community use in the district's "eventual relocation." Scott Rappe, who co-chairs the planning committee with McKnight, said the intent was to take sale of the property off the table, removing a big incentive to shutter the station.

McKnight indicated the community's first priority should be to retain the current police presence, with officers who know the neighborhood. One alternative, McKnight said, is to establish a police substation in the renovated, city-owned Goldblatt's Building at 1625 W. Chicago. But Locke suggested not much space was available there.

Crime-stoppers likely will find the city budget a more vital topic than the next iPhone. But the gadget's anticipated release has prompted a CAPS reminder not to be so oblivious when using mobile devices.

Tom Tomek, EVA's CAPS liaison, noted that an aware community plays an underrated crime-fighting role: Convicted burglars at a July police seminar said their top reason to reject a target building is the presence of nosy neighbors.

Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy Beat 1322 meets at 7 pm Wednesday at the Wood Street station. EVA's board of directors meets at 6:30 pm Monday at Leona's Restaurant, 1936 W. Augusta Blvd. If you can't attend either meeting, leave your comments below.
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