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Emanuel Defends Closing Of Police District Stations

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday he stands by the decision to close two police district stations over the weekend and the plan to close a third in the fall.

As WBBM Newsradio's Bernie Tafoya reports, the mayor said Police Supt. Garry McCarthy's decision to consolidate the city's previous 25 police districts into 22 by the end of the year will result in Chicagoans feeling and being safer.

"I don't believe buildings protect you. I believe police on the beat, driving in the community, responding to calls, doing preventive community policing is the best thing to do," Emanuel said.

The Prairie District, at 300 E. 29th St. on the South Side, closed over the weekend. Patrol officers from that district are moving to three other South Side districts.

The Belmont District station at 2452 W. Belmont Av. will no longer serve as a district station, but will continue to serve as the headquarters for the new North Area Detective Division. Patrol officers from Belmont are being moved to the nearby Town Hall District at 850 W. Addison St.

The Wood District, at 937 N. Wood St. on the Near West Sdie, will close in the fall. Patrol officers there will move to the nearby Monroe District at 100 S. Racine Av.

"One of those neighborhoods … is mine, where I live," Emanuel said. "As I said when I first introduced this, I would never ask somebody to do something if I didn't think it was the right thing to do for safety."

The mayor said there was nothing magical about having 25 police districts. He said he'll be guided by the principle of doing whatever it takes to put more police officers on the street.

The Police Department has said the move to consolidate police districts, and to merge the five previous detective divisions into three, will return 100 officers to patrol duties from administrative assignments.

The three new detective divisions will be the North Area, based at the former Belmont District station; the Central Area, based at 5101 S. Wentworth Av.; and the South Area, based at 727 E. 111th St.

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