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Emanuel, McCarthy to move cops into districts to revitalize CAPS

With murders shootings mounting new year Mayor Rahm Emanuel Police Supt. Garry McCarthy are trying breanew life inChicago’s once vibrant

With murders and shootings mounting in the new year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy are trying to breathe new life into Chicago’s once vibrant, but now stagnant, community policing program with an announcement Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 10, 2013 5:52PM



Calling community policing done right a “force multiplier,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy tried Tuesday to breathe new life into Chicago’s once-vibrant but now stagnant CAPS program.

The plan to move 50 community policing employees from police headquarters to districts and place the entire program in the hands of Chief of Patrol Joe Patterson follows through on promises made in the mayor’s 2013 budget address.

Patterson replaces Ron Holt, the police officer father of Blair Holt, a 16-year-old gunned down in 2007 by a reputed gang member who opened fire on a CTA bus crowded with students on their way home from Julian High School. Ron Holt will shift his focus to victims assistance.

Instead of dictating “cookie-cutter” CAPS programs from downtown, district commanders will customize programs to attack local problems, foster relationships with residents and businesses using social media, and be held accountable under the CompStat evaluation system used to hold everybody else’s feet to the fire.

Every district will be assigned a CAPS sergeant and two police officers along with a community organizer and access to a youth service provider and area coordinator. Four citywide coordinators will oversee community policing programs with a particular focus on seniors, youth, domestic violence and victims assistance.

Every police officer will be trained in community policing strategies, including “procedural justice and police legitimacy,” with 2,500 officers and 400 recruits trained already.

Under community policing, citizens and police work together to identify neighborhood problems that can breed crime and to solve crimes.

But, Emanuel argued that what started off as “a mindset, a philosophy and an approach to policing” evolved into a bureaucracy that served as an impediment to crime-fighting.

“It became an office that was as big and as bloated in the downtown [headquarters] as we had in the districts, and that clearly was a misguided set of priorities. It was something that just grew over the years, and nobody basically cared about it,” Emanuel said.

In 2008, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley made a similar argument when he gutted Chicago’s community policing budget and reduced its staff by 25 percent. Critics argued that the cost-cutting move left the then-15-year-old crime-fighting program “almost dead.”

That followed then-Police Supt. Jody Weis’ decision to stop paying overtime to police officers to attend monthly beat meetings or community policing functions.

On Tuesday, Emanuel and McCarthy acknowledged that they are not increasing the community policing budget, nor are they restoring overtime to attend beat meetings and CAPS events.

“Why should we be paying officers overtime to do their job?” the superintendent said.

“Community meetings are now being attended by officers who work in that beat. ... They come off patrol for an hour or so to join the commander while they’re sitting down having a discussion with the community. I don’t understand why it has to be an on-duty, off-duty issue. They’re working. They should be there.”

The mayor agreed that police officers “don’t get paid overtime for doing your job.”

He added, “We have the same budget, but it’s applied differently. You can have the same 50 people. But if they’re in the downtown headquarters, they’re not doing community policing, and they’re not helping a commander focus on the community. ... I believe 50 community policing officers working in individual districts is a better application of those resources than sitting down in headquarters shuffling paper.”

McCarthy argued that it makes sense to put community policing under the chief of patrol.

“Community policing is not an office. It’s a way of doing business that should be embraced by every member at all ranks, with every encounter every day because every one of our encounters is a teachable moment. We can learn and we can also teach at the same time,” the superintendent said.

“A strong partnership with the community is a force-multiplier. Strengthening our partnerships by revitalizing community policing efforts is the logical and necessary extension of the changes that have already been made” to empower district commanders, he said.

During Tuesday’s news conference at the Grand Crossing District station, McCarthy noted that his officers have already confiscated 180 guns during the first week of the new year. McCarthy and Emanuel continued to beat the drum for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips even though a proposed statewide ban stalled in the lame-duck session of the Illinois General Assembly.

Chicago ended 2012 with 506 homicides, a 16 percent increase from the year before. The new year has begun on a similarly violent note, with roughly a dozen homicides and nearly 50 shootings.



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