In some welcome news for Rogers Park and the 24th Police District, Mayor Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced that community policing in Chicago will be revitalized by decentralizing the initiative and giving local district commanders more control over its implementation.
Known in Chicago as the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), community policing is a problem-solving approach to fighting crime that emphasizes forming partnerships with neighborhood residents to address safety and quality of life issues. I was a strong proponent of bringing community policing to Chicago and led the successful campaign twenty years ago to name the 24th District, which encompasses the 49th Ward and Rogers Park, as the City’s first community policing pilot district.
Thanks in large part to a strong and successful community policing effort in Rogers Park, index crime in our neighborhood dropped by over 50%in the first ten years of its implementation. Unfortunately, the previous Mayor’s commitment to community policing began to wane, which ultimately resulted in a series of budget cuts that decimated local district CAPS offices.
The revitalization will focus on decentralizing CAPS resources, which will allow key decisions regarding community policing to be made at the district level instead of police headquarters, and training every officer in community policing strategies.
The changes are being made to provide greater authority and accountability to district commanders, who will be responsible for the success of their plans, and to provide every officer– not just CAPS officers–the tools and training needed to follow those plans, engage residents and develop relationships that can prevent crime. This is good news; our District Commander, James Roussell (pictured on the left, courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times), is astrong believer in community policing and has developed a strong, proactive approach to solving crime and quality of life issues in our neighborhood.
Each police district will be assigned a CAPS Sergeant and two police officers, as well as a community organizer and a shared youth services provider. In addition, four citywide coordinators will oversee community policing programs targeted at some of our most vulnerable populations, including the Victim Assistance Section, the Senior and Community Outreach Section, the Domestic Violence Section and the Youth Services Section.
District Commanders are charged with developing a deployment plan to best utilize their available resources. Commander Roussell told me he already has submitted his deployment plan to the Superintendent. In it, he proposes to recreate some of the most successful 24th District Community policing initiatives.
His plan includes a proposal to assign a police officer to work full-time on troubled buildings. The position of a troubled building officer was first created under Commander Tom Byrne and proved enormously successful at turning around some of our most entrenched problem buildings. Inexplicably, the position was eliminated a few years ago during a round of budget cuts.
Commander Roussell also hopes to recreate the Youth Explorer Program that served to build relationships of trust between the police and our youth and assign an officer to work full-time with our senior citizens, who are especially vulnerable to crime.
District commanders will be responsible for regular review of community policing efforts, and will strive to ensure the work is successful in addressing the needs of the community. Commanders will also be responsible for cementing a positive and productive relationship between police officers and neighborhood residents and businesses.
The efforts of CAPS officers in response to the needs identified in the District Commander’s plan will be included in the Chicago Police Department’s overall performance management system, known as CompStat.
One of the most important features of community policing is the monthly beat meeting at which community residents meet with the officers that patrol their beats to discuss ongoing concerns and develop strategies to combat those concerns. My office is always represented at these meetings and Commander Roussell often attends, as well.
For a schedule of upcoming beat meetings in the 24th District, CLICK HERE.
For a map of the beats in the 24th District and help in finding your beat, CLICK HERE.
I urge you to become part of the solution and attend the next beat meeting in your area.