CPD issues community strategies to fight crime
by KEVIN GROSS
The community-driven strategic plan to reduce crime in the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District focuses on reducing street robberies, burglaries and thefts from cars, while the 17th (Albany Park) District’s plan lists violence, shootings and homicides related to gang activity as well as burglaries as its main concerns.
The Chicago Police Department has recently released its community policing strategic plans for each police district, which are based on ideas gathered from community residents who met with police officials at events in the past months all over the city.
The plans, a result of the federally enforced consent decree for reforming the police department, list each district’s crime reduction priorities and ideas for community engagement and collaboration.
The 16th District’s plan calls for increased police presence via foot and bike patrols and missions to combat the district’s property crimes as well as to prevent robberies, particularly those involving cellphones and vehicles. The district has battled these issues in the past through the assistance from the Violent Crimes Task Force and through traffic and index crime mission.
Aside from patrols and missions, the strategies call for police visibility via outdoor roll calls or "positive loitering" events with community groups, the local aldermen and residents.
The 16th District’s plan also includes a goal of increased interaction with seniors via a "Support Your Senior" campaign, education about deceptive fraud and safety talks at assisted living facilities. Senior citizens are often the victim of scams known as "gypsy ruses," whereby a burglar posing as a roofing contractor or a gas meter inspector tricks a resident into allowing access into their home or distracts them while a second person enters the home and steals belongings.
In contrast, to prevent gun violence in the 17th District, the plans calls for more foot patrols and traffic and anti-violence missions throughout the district, while also inquiring local businesses to link any of their surveillance camera systems to the central Office of Emergency Management and Community Management to help solve crimes.
Many of the community engagement-based suggestions are related to preventative and educational messaging. For instance, to tackle the 17th District’s priority of reducing residential burglaries during evenings and nights, the plan advocates for conducting beat meetings and social media campaigns for "preventative tips in not becoming a victim," and posting flyers at parks, businesses and community events or distributing them via community organizations and on social media.
Similarly, the 16th District’s plan suggested a bulletin and education campaign through local aldermanic offices, churches and print media including Nadig Newspapers and the Polish Daily News, to address safety issues such as walking through public areas while using cellphones.
Both districts’ plans also listed "youth engagement" as a goal and highlighted the potential of building upon child and youth-engagement activities, such as the existing D.A.R.E. program or the "Police Explorer" career exploration program, by creating new programs such as a youth council in the 16th District, police participation in book readings, sports programs or guest speaking at school events, or the use of "Operation Prom Night" demonstrations in schools within the 17th District, which simulate car crashes to deter teenagers from drunk driving. The 17th District’s community building and engagement plan particularly focuses on recruiting youth to police-related activities, as the district contains neighborhoods with many families.
For non youth-related community building activities, the 17th District’s plan highlighted the need for "substantive" discussions such as business safety workshops coordinated with local chambers of commerce, and burglary seminars such as the "Keeping It Real" program, which features panels of convicted burglars who share their methods to community audiences in hopes that they remain vigilant.
The 16th District plans to host informational tables at events such as the Jefferson Park Farmers’ Market or the Forest Glen Garage Sale, hold meet-and-greets with business owners or at chamber events, and interact with residents by holding block parties, particularly within the district’s Beat 1622 and 1623 in Portage Park and Jefferson.
The plans for each police district can be viewed at https://home. chicagopolice.org/community/dis trict-strategic-plans/.