WEST ENGLEWOOD — Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) has formed a group that hopes to strengthen community and police relations in West Englewood.
Among other issues, the death of 19-year-old Kajuan Raye, who was shot and killed by a police sergent in November, has decreased the level of trust toward police in the community, Lopez said.
Raye, who was from south suburban Dolton, was shot Nov. 23 by Sgt. John Poulos of the Englewood Police District. Poulos was responding to a call of a battery near 65th and Ashland around 11 p.m., police said.
Raye ran away, and Poulos followed. Poulos said Raye pointed a gun at him twice during the chase and Poulis shot him, police said.
Lopez has teamed up with the faith-based community, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Chicago Police to form the West Englewood Working Group.
“Many of my religious leaders, as well as community leaders, said we don’t want to just sit here and talk, we need to start addressing some of these issues that happen in our community and not just have meetings to meet,” Lopez said.
The Cook County Sheriff's Office is on board with the idea, spokesman Samuel Randall said.
“The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is constantly striving to further empower and engage the community,” he said.
The goal of the group is to focus less on enforcement and more on engagement, Lopez said, adding that it hopes to break down some of the preconceived notions and stereotypes held about law enforcement members as well about community residents.
Some of the ideas include having police visit schools so officers can interact with students. Lopez said he’d like to see them perhaps play games or engage in other activities with the kids instead of just lecturing them.
“We want to do activities with the kids so they can see you can have a fun interaction with someone wearing a uniform, a badge and not have to be afraid,” he said.
There also will be events and workshops for seniors and adults, he said.
Shortly after Raye was shot, Lopez held a meeting with local organizations, churches and community leaders to address the death in his ward. Englewood District Cmdr. Kenneth Johnson attended.
Lopez called the incident tragic and held the meeting to give the community the facts about it. The new group will continue working to keeping the community informed and to build trust with police, Lopez said.
The way Raye reacted to police shouldn’t be the norm, he said.
“That is one of several instances where a young man’s initial reaction when the police approach is to run, and it’s that fear we need to address,” Lopez said. “The best way to address fear is with truth and engagement.”
Chicago Police could not immediately be reached for comment.
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