LOGAN SQUARE — The Chicago Police Department program known as CAPS is over in the Shakespeare District, according to the district’s new commander.
“CAPS is dead. We need to drive a stake right through its heart,” Police Cmdr. Marc Buslik told a group of Logan Square residents at Haas Park Monday night — at what was formerly known as a CAPS meeting.
Shakespeare District Police Cmdr. Marc Buslik [DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday]
The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy has become an obsolete term since the program began in 1992, Buslik said. Now, more than 20 years later, the strategy has become a philosophy, and “there’s nothing alternative about it.”
“We need to reinvent ourselves,” the district’s top officer said, noting that a renewed commitment to “community policing” is the new priority for the Shakespeare District.
So what, exactly, is the difference?
According to Buslik, an academic at heart who's working on a doctorate in criminology, the end of CAPS and the start of community policing lies in redirecting police from the role of a “warrior” to that of a “guardian” in the communities they serve.
“We need to get back to the root of community policing and talk about it as such,” Buslik said, laying out what he called a “co-production of public safety.”
“If I could take all the CAPS stickers off the sides of police cars, I would,” he added.
The change won’t come in the form of new stickers and may not be immediately apparent to those living within the Shakespeare District. In practical terms, public beat meetings will carry on as usual, the district will continue to increase foot patrols, and residents will be encouraged to call 911 whenever “you think police need to be there,” Buslik said.
The Shakespeare District police department boundaries include Logan Square and parts of Humboldt Park, Avondale, Wicker Park and Bucktown. [CPD]
The Shakespeare District commander made a similar pledge to Shakespeare District residents in Humboldt Park during a June 1 beat meeting that, like Monday’s meeting, doubled as a meet-and-greet tour for the new commander.
At the June meeting, Buslik said he had “banned the term CAPS from the station” because “it’s not about a program, it’s about how the Police Department functions.”
The district will continue to test new initiatives like the Police Department’s first districtwide use of body cameras and a broad social media strategy via @ChicagoCAPS14 that has made the Shakespeare District the department’s "most social officers.”
It all comes at a time of relative peace in the community, Buslik said. While murder is up, shootings, aggravated battery, theft and robbery are all down in the Shakespeare District over the previous year.
The drop in local violence gives the department “the luxury to be more flexible, as we aren’t going from shooting to shooting, as unfortunately, they are in some districts,” he said.
That luxury allows police to give more thought to "procedural justice" for typically law-abiding residents and to offer options like relocation and employment assistance, along with direction to family and child resource centers, to those identified as likely to become a gang-related offender or victim, Buslik said.
Buslik was promoted to Shakespeare District commander in April but has worked eight years in the district, which includes Logan Square and parts of Humboldt Park, Avondale, Wicker Park and Bucktown. He is a 35-year veteran of the Police Department.
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