CHICAGO — The mayor and Chicago's top cop moved to end community policing as we know it Tuesday, returning it, they said, to the communities.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the 20-year-old Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program would be "decentralized" and largely shifted to district commanders.
The writing was on the wall for the change after Emanuel removed $4.5 million in CAPS funding from the 2013 city budget.
Emanuel insisted Tuesday, however, that the move did not reflect less of a commitment to community policing, saying, "We have the same budget, but it's applied differently.
"The office of CAPS will no longer be downtown," he added. "It will be in each and every one of our districts."
McCarthy said that, reflecting his own emphasis on "greater accountability" and the belief that "leadership counts," the 25 district commanders would each be given the "autonomy" to administer CAPS as that commander sees fit.
"He's being given the resources and the support needed to engage members of the community to develop a community-policing plan," McCarthy said. "How's that for a concept?"
Under the new plan, each district will be assigned a CAPS sergeant and two police officers specializing in community policing, along with a community organizer and a shared youth-services provider. The district commander will delegate how to best use those resources given the neighborhood involvement. Four citywide coordinators will specialize in victim assistance, senior citizens, youth services and domestic violence.
"We are confident in the gains to be made by decentralizing the management of community-policing efforts," said Chief of Patrol Joe Patterson, who will oversee the program.
Patterson insisted current CAPS Director Ronald Holt was not being demoted, but at the same time he was clearly superseding Holt's leadership.
"He will be focusing on victim assistance," Patterson said.
"Joe's in charge of it," McCarthy added. "That doesn't mean Ron's been demoted."
Holt saw the changes coming as far back as Emanuel's October budget address, saying, "CAPS is being reorganized, not eliminated."
Emanuel and McCarthy emphasized it was only common sense to return community policing to the communities.
"For too long, community policing became a bureaucracy downtown," Emanuel said, adding that it had grown "big" and "bloated" and that there were more CAPS officers in offices than on the streets.
He said it was an important innovation that grew out of the federal 1994 crime bill, but "over the last 20-plus years, it became a bureaucracy, not a philosophy."
McCarthy called the changes an "evolution" in "community engagement."
Five members of the City Council attended the news conference in support of the reforms, led by Ald. Willie Cochran (20th).
"My colleagues and I are very happy," he said. While he praised CAPS' achievements over the last 20 years, Cochran added, "I think it's a great move by the mayor taking this program back out to the districts."
They made the announcement in a news conference at the Grand Crossing District police station, 7040 S. Cottage Grove Ave.