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Connecting Cops With Kids New Focus Of CPD's Community Policing Strategy

By Heather Cherone | August 10, 2017 4:00pm | Updated on August 15, 2017 8:44am
 A Chicago police officer plays a game of chess with Chicago Christian Academy students at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School.
A Chicago police officer plays a game of chess with Chicago Christian Academy students at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School.
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DNAinfo/Kayla Martinez

 

CITY HALL — Police officers would be specifically assigned to partner with residents to protect Chicago neighborhoods under a proposal released Thursday by Supt. Eddie Johnson that also includes a special emphasis on engaging young people.

Ten months after Johnson promised to renew the Chicago Police Department's focus on community policing, the new policy will be the subject of  community meetings starting Thursday evening.

The policy is the culmination of the work of the Community Policing Advisory Panel, formed by Johnson in October as part of the top cop's effort to remake the department as officials struggle to turn back the surge of violence that swept the city in 2016 and has shown no sign of abating.

The policy places special emphasis on the need for officers and the department's top brass to engage and collaborate with Chicagoans age 16 to 24, and would establish a citywide Youth Advisory Council as well as councils for each of the department's 22 districts.

"Any community policing plan has to include solutions for breaking down barriers between youth and law enforcement to enable each to see the humanity in one another," according to the plan.

At the same time, a 161-page report by the Department of Justice released Jan. 13 prompted by the death 17-year-old Laquan McDonald after being shot 16 times  concluded that the department must embrace community policing as "a core philosophy" in order to end officers' routine violations of the civil rights of residents by using excessive force caused by poor training and nonexistent supervision.

The panel "fully endorses the need for more positive formal and informal interactions to build relationships between beat and tactical officers and community residents," according to the report.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed the draft policy in a statement issued Thursday.

"Community engagement and collaboration is essential to the Police Departments reform efforts," Emanuel said. "These recommendations will work to continue to strengthen community trust and engagement, which in turn strengthens public safety and supports police in the crime fight."

Emanuel said Sunday part of the reason the city sued the Trump administration over Chicago's sanctuary city's policy was to protect the Police Department's renewed commitment to community policing, which seeks to build trusting relationships with all residents, regardless of their immigration status.

That is not possible when a large portion of the community is worried about being deported, Johnson said.

The policy would create a new deputy chief of police to oversee the department's community policing effort as well as the creation and staffing of Community Policing Offices in each district, according to the draft.

In addition, the policy recommends officials identify "a broad group of community stakeholders" who would help introduce officers to their area and "serve as 'mentors' during the initial months of their assignment with the aim of building stronger relationships of trust."

The draft policy does not specify how many officers should be assigned to focus on community policing efforts, nor does the policy detail a plan to free up officers who are already stretched thin across the city. Nor does it detail how officers will be trained to implement the new policy, beyond a recommendation that a video be created to be played for officers during roll call.

Nor does the draft policy detail how the department's resources would be shifted to pay for the new initiatives — or if the department would ask the Chicago City Council for more money, on top of another approximately $60 million cover the cost of expanding the police department by another 266 police officers, 100 detectives and 75 sergeants in 2018.

The draft policy seeks to restore Chicago's "status as a national leader" in community policing — and acknowledges that the gains achieved by the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program had been "eroded."

Over the years, CAPS became little more than "one-off events and programs that did little to build sustainable relationships and were not designed even as starting points for relationship building or community empowerment," according to the draft policy.

The renewed community policing push would include continued meetings in every police beat on a regular basis, according to the draft policy, as well as the development of a "web-based database" to allow officials to monitor in "real time" the community policing policy's implementation.

Members of the public can weigh in on the plan at three meetings set for:

• 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Corliss Early College STEM High School, 821 E. 103rd St.

• 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Sullivan High School, 6631 N. Bosworth Ave.

• 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at George Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.

Read the full draft policy here:

Community Policing Draft Policy by Heather Cherone on Scribd