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High schools to hold weekly crime-fighting meetings with police

Updated: January 3, 2012 9:01AM

Chicago Public High School principals will hold weekly meetings with police district commanders to talk about crimes in and around schools and devise strategies to combat them, under a school-based Compstat program unveiled Wednesday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled a high school version of the crime-fighting strategy that Police Supt. Garry McCarthy brought to Chicago on the same day that the Chicago Public Schools announced another round of school closings that, parents fear, will make children less safe.

Whenever schools are closed, some students are forced to travel — sometimes through rival gang turf — to get to new and unfamiliar schools further away. Sometimes they are accepted. Sometimes the reception is hostile and tensions trigger more crime inside and outside schools.

Emanuel is well aware that this year’s round of school closings will be equally controversial.

But, he said, “We are transforming schools. … Failure is not acceptable. We owe it to our children as adults to give them an education and to give them a safe environment. Both of these announcements are about bringing the level of change that is necessary to a system that hasn’t been doing its job on behalf of the taxpayers and the children.”

The mayor flatly denied that the school Compstat program was aimed at softening the controversy over the school closings.

“I’ve been talking about this for a long time. … When it comes to the safety of our children — when it comes to making sure we’re using our resources right — there’s not a day that any of my commissioners can take a rest on that effort. … I want our children to have a mindset that it’s safe to go to school and to be in school,” the mayor told a news conference at Marshall High School, 3250 W. Adams.

CompStat is a program to map and analyze crime statistics and hold commanders accountable at weekly meetings.

The New York Police Department created the program in 1994 and McCarthy spent seven years running those meetings as head of crime strategy for the NYPD. Over the last six months, McCarthy has implemented the CompStat program in Chicago.

Now, Chicago Public high schools will have their own version of Compstat, beginning Dec. 13 with high schools in the Englewood and Chicago Lawn Districts.

Instead of having, what Emanuel calls a “gulf” between principals, police and religious leaders, the three institutions will come together and share information about student tensions inside and outside school buildings.

If there’s an incident over the weekend that might bleed over into the school building on Monday morning, principals will know about it. If a fight breaks out in school that might cause a problem on the way home or at a nearby school, police will know and officers will be reassigned accordingly.

“The idea is to ensure that the cop on the street knows exactly what’s going on in the school and the principal in the school knows exactly what the cop on the street is doing,” McCarthy said.

“It’s a transferable process that can be used in virtually any scenario. So, it’s a no-brainer as far as we’re concerned. I am sure that this is going to provide a greater level of safety for our kids.”

Marshall High School Principal Kenyatta Stansberry acknowledged that she worked closely with the local district commander during her earlier stint at Harper High School. But stepping it up a notch by holding mandatory weekly meetings can only improve student safety, she said.

“It will involve all schools. It will involve all commanders. And it will allow everybody to step up and take responsibility for what’s happening in the community and in the schools,” she said.

“When you look at the data and you look at Monday mornings, sometimes we have to deal with incidents in schools that happen over the weekend. Knowing that this may be a possible situation because we just had Compstat last week” just might help.

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