Chicago police safety initiative for summer 2021 includes community engagement for officers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police are launching a program Friday that they believe will be crtiical to keeping Chicago safe this summer.

The Chicago Police Department is making all officers responsible for community engagement.

CPD Superintendent David Brown believes that winning the battle against violence requires changing tactics.

In West Garfield Park, a known drug house was demolished Friday.

Police held a morning roll call and took part in a cleanup effort aimed at building community trust. This comes as CPD brass annouunced their enhanced community engagement efforts department wide.

"We wanted to create an environment where every member of the police department participates in community engagement. This has never been done before, never in this magnitude," said Deputy Chief of Community Policing Angel Novalez.

The four-pronged approach focuses on community engagement, youth engagement, neighborhood policing initiative and an expansion of the civil rights division.

Asiaha Butler, co-founder of RAGE, a community organization in Englewood, wants to see more than just plan from police. She said beat officers need to actually get to know people.

"I definitely would start with walking these blocks and talking to people, finding out what's going on, you know, who are you, what is this," said Butler, CEO at Residents Association of Greater Englewood.

The superintendent said they are not abondoning traditional policing but pivoting on how it is done.

"We know that collaborating with the community works, we have evidence. This is not a pie in the sky thought that this is not something that can work. We know it will work," said Superintendent Brown.

Community groups want to see police do a better job but also realize people in the neighborhoods have to do their part.

"If we want a safe block, and we don't want a child being shot, and we don't want our grandmother being shot, we have to do this together," Butler said.

Police said this new community engagement plan is not a replacement for the traditional CAPS program but an enhancement to it. They are also assigning liaison officers to each district to work with marginalized members of the community.
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