CPD ex­pand­ing pro­gram of com­mu­nity polic­ing

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MITCH DUDEK, STAFF RE­PORTER mdudek@sun­times.com | @mitch­dudek

The Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment is ex­pand­ing a com­mu­nity polic­ing pro­gram that seeks to have of­fi­cers build gen­uine re­la­tion­ships with res­i­dents in or­der to work to­gether to ad­dress pub­lic safety con­cerns be­fore they re­sult in calls to 911.

The first task of those of­fi­cers, known as district co­or­di­na­tion of­fi­cers, will be to in­tro­duce them­selves to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble in a small des­ig­nated area, hand­ing out busi­ness cards with their cell­phone num­bers and sim­ply chat­ting with folks on front porches, Po­lice Supt. David Brown said Thurs­day at a news con­fer­ence out­side a South­west Side po­lice sta­tion.

Mayor Lori Light­foot said those first in­ter­ac­tions will lay the ground­work for res­i­dents to dial the of­fi­cer’s cell­phone in­stead of call­ing 911.

“Those con­ver­sa­tions of­ten be­gin with nag­ging is­sues, such as speed­ing cars or a loud neigh­bor, but rather than call 911 when these is­sues come up, res­i­dents know that they can call their DCO, who then works to re­solve these is­sues with the help of beat of­fi­cers, de­tec­tives, lo­cal al­der­men, area busi­nesses and, of course, their col­leagues in city gov­ern­ment and other agen­cies,” Light­foot said.

The pro­gram was first tested in the Grand Cen­tral District on the West Side in Jan­uary and has re­sulted in 1,500 fewer calls to 911 through mid-Au­gust com­pared with the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year.

The pro­gram is be­ing ex­panded to the Deer­ing, Og­den and Har­ri­son po­lice dis­tricts, which in­clude por­tions of the West and South­west sides that con­tain “com­mu­ni­ties with the most need” and the “largest chal­lenges,” said Light­foot, who also an­nounced a new pro­gram to train of­fi­cers for the pro­gram.

The Com­mu­nity Train­ing Academy will be a three-day train­ing pro­gram for of­fi­cers that will deepen “un­der­stand­ing of his­toric, key fac­tors re­lat­ing to polic­ing and com­mu­nity con­cern in a par­tic­u­lar ge­og­ra­phy,” Light­foot said.

Of­fi­cers will hear from mem­bers of the com­mu­nity what those con­cerns are and “de­velop an un­der­stand­ing of the bi­ases that ham­per the strong en­gage­ment we need to make our com­mu­ni­ties safe,” Light­foot said.

Brown framed the pro­gram as one that will build trust and al­low peo­ple to feel com­fort­able enough to re­port other, more vi­o­lent crimes.

“In­stead of crim­i­nals feel­ing em­bold­ened, they’re on their heels, con­cerned that some­one might turn them in,” Brown said.

Of­fi­cers in the ex­panded Neigh­bor­hood Polic­ing Ini­tia­tive will also seek to help res­i­dents with job and hous­ing as­sis­tance and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence coun­sel­ing. The pro­gram will work in tan­dem with other com­mu­nity polic­ing pro­grams.

Ald. Ariel Re­boyras, whose 30th Ward in­cludes part of the Grand Cen­tral district, where the pro­gram has been in oper­a­tion for months, spoke glow­ingly of it.

“The NPI is the fu­ture of the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment, and I think we need to re­mem­ber that,” he said.

Po­lice Supt. David Brown speaks Thurs­day at the 10th District Po­lice Sta­tion in Lawn­dale. PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES

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