Lightfoot launches new community policing initiative after violent weekend

Monday, June 10, 2019
CHICAGO (WLS) -- After another violent weekend in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has launched a new effort to crack down on crime that has Chicago police taking more of a business-like approach.

Mayor Lightfoot, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno launched the initiative, which was designed to strengthen the relationship between local businesses and communities across Chicago.

WATCH: Mayor Lightfoot launches new community policing initiative
Mayor Lightfoot launches partnership initiative with business across Chicago

"This initiative is not only about building partnerships and nurturing trust between small businesses, it represents a new era of collaboration between the Chicago Police Department and our communities," Lightfoot said.

As part of this new year-round initiative, the city will now have a designated business liaison officer in all 22 police districts to work side-by-side with the district commander and the local business community.

Each officer will work directly with businesses in their district to establish engagement strategies to encourage positive community interactions and relationships.
WATCH: Supt. Eddie Johnson announces the Chicago Police Department's part in the community policing initiative
Mayor Lightfoot launches partnership initiative with business across Chicago

The plan establishes a business liaison officer in every police district who will hold monthly meetings to hear concerns from business owners and to make sure they are in compliance with all city ordinances. It expands a program that has been in place in the Central Business district for years.

"Business liaison officers will play pivotal roles in ensuring local businesses in each district have the support, resources and access needed to remain in good standing as good stewards of their respective communities," Johnson said. "This isn't a program that's designed to crack down on them, this is a program to make them better. We recognize that some businesses are trying to do the right thing and they're getting pressured by certain elements of the community well that's where we step in."

Throughout the year, CPD will also host violence deterrence meetings as a direct approach to intervene with individual problem businesses that have seen criminal activity on or around the business property.

Each meeting agenda will be based on specific business and public safety topics for police officers, community members and local business owners to discuss and collaborate on a solution before enhanced enforcement and litigation efforts are required.

This new initiative is part of the Chicago Police Department's community policing strategies and its ongoing efforts to improve the communication and cooperation between police officers and the communities they serve.

Shireen Jamil, who owns a Subway at 63rd and Cottage Grove, is an active participant in her local CAPS meetings and praised the latest police initiative.

"I think that's wonderful, I really think it's very positive because, again we invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into this and of course we want to be part of the community," Jamil said.

Jamil, whose store is right down the street from a now-shuttered liquor store, said business owners need to be more proactive.

"You can't just say, 'Oh, no, police is going to take care of everything,'" she said.

"The more that we can connect up with individuals, organizations, block clubs, businesses that are the heart and vibrancy of a community, it strengthens, I think the legitimacy of the police, strengthens their ability to fight crime in neighborhoods and be proactive," Lightfoot said.

The head of the Fraternal Order of Police called the initiative a useful tool for police.

"Well I think it's always good to have relationships with the community, with the business community, and knowing that we do have a partnership, so I think communication is always a positive," FOP President Kevin Graham said.

The mayor met again with key members of the Police Department for her weekly accountability meeting on Monday afternoon. She said more work needs to be done to reduce the violence this weekend that resulted in 41 people being shot, three of them fatally.
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