Chicago to open first-ever Community Safety Coordination Center to curb violence

Will Jones Image
ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Thursday, August 5, 2021
EMBED <>More Videos

Chicago's first-ever Community Safety Coordination Center will focus first on four communities: West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Little Village and Englewood.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago leaders are taking new steps to curb violence. For the first time in its history, the city will open a multi-agency Community Safety Coordination Center.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the center will address seven social factors that can shape violence in communities: employment, community revitalization, violence diversion, violence interruption, social services navigation, health and wellness; and education and youth programs.

WATCH | Lightfoot announces new Community Safety Coordination Center

Norman Kerr explained the mission behind the city's new initiative to tackle violence that he developed in his role as the city's director of violence reduction.

"My mother used to say many hands make the work light, meaning, if we are all contributing it's going to be an easier lift," Kerr said.

Kerr said different city departments and community organizations will be working together to provide resources and services to residents in the city's first-ever Community Safety Coordination Center. It will address some of the root causes of violence.

When asked how he feels on Monday mornings after seeing how many shootings there were in the city over the weekend, Kerr said, "It's very depressing. Doing this for years, it takes its toll for sure. But I am a very optimistic person."

The center will focus first on four communities: West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Little Village and Englewood.

Rachel Williams has been living on her block in North Lawndale since the 1950s. Her daughter, Barbara Cole, hasn't lived anywhere else. They have seen many administrations target violent crime with few results.

"It is not the way we're supposed to live," Williams said. "Killing and shooting is painful to see."

Cole said neighbors have to be a part of the solution to reduce violence.

"You got to care. It takes our neighbors caring," she said.

Kerr believes community involvement is key. He wants residents to know the center needs their support. And what if it doesn't work?

"We are going to continue," Kerr said. "We are going to try something else. We are going to build on it."

The Community Safety Coordination Center will be up and running before the end of the summer in a temporary location downtown. The center will eventually move to a permanent location in one of the neighborhoods.