ROGERS PARK — Just hours after police released a graphic video of Laquan McDonald's October 2014 shooting, Rogers Park residents said at a community meeting that trust and cooperation between law enforcement and citizens "can't wait any longer."
At the start of the community policing meeting, Rogers Park District officers said they would not "talk about that at this meeting" and were "not going to play that out in the court of public opinion," acknowledging it was a "strange time for Chicago."
But that didn't stop residents from expressing their feelings about policing in their own ward, where on Nov. 14 25-year-old Eric Jordan was shot dead at Willye B. White Park.
Tammy Goulet, a Rogers Park resident, said after Jordan's death she and other residents talked about the need for police to be involved in the community aside from actual policing like engaging more with religious leaders and kids in the neighborhood when they're off duty.
She said police do great work in the neighborhood, but she feels the community lacks a cohesive trust.
Sgt. Shawn Sisk said his department would "never turn down" an invitation to partake in community events, but said he wasn't "not going to force ourselves upon people" — preferring the community reach out to police.
"We try to do the best that we can with the resources that we've got," Sisk told Goulet.
Goulet said there are lot of positive things happening in the community, and she knows of several people who work with organizations that try to help young gang members leave a life of crime before it's too late.
But without more trust between those young men, who Sisk described as in the "primes of their lives," she worries things won't improve.
Timothy A. Williams, a pastor and community organizer who sits on the board of housing advocacy group Good News Partners, said there needs to be a stronger and more meaningful dialog between citizens, gang members and police.
"This is our community — we need to be asking 'OK what does it take to get you what you need and how can we help you?'" to people who wish to leave gang life behind, he said. "This is not the police's community, not your community, not his community, our community."
Williams said that he got a call from a friend of his daughter who prayed with Jordan as he lay on the park field mortally wounded Nov. 14, and who pleaded to him, "We gotta do something."
"We can't wait any longer, we gotta work together and that's all it is," he said. "We gotta get these guys to the point where they're officer-friendly, or this stuff's gonna eat us up."
Williams said putting differences aside and fostering a healthy relationship with police was critical for the neighborhood's success, emphasizing, "We gotta make sure we don't make them our enemy."
Sisk brought the conversation to an end noting the meeting's time restrictions and saying they could "go on forever" talking about the police and the community "as it should, it's important," he said.
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