Lightfoot, Brown expand community policing initiative to 3 more districts

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown are banking on community policing to pull the city through some tough times.

District coordination officers will be paired up in a special community policing effort. Each pair will cover three beats identified as having similar concerns. Before heading out, they’ll go through a training academy, taught in part, by the people who live there.

“They hand out business cards with their names, cellphone numbers and email address and speak one-on-one with residents about their concerns. Those conversations often begin with nagging issues such as speeding cars or a loud neighbor," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot wants officers to have what she calls “cultural literacy” so community voices will identify an area’s biggest concerns.

They’ll be asking residents to call them instead of 911 with non-emergency complaints. The 25th District had a pilot program of this and saw its 911 calls drop 1,500 in a year. That gives officers the time they need to respond to true emergencies.

With so much going on in the city this summer—increased violence, shootings that have injured and killed children, looting and clashes between protesters and police—the mayor says it’s a great day to see the expansion of community policing into areas that are struggling. 

"It means more collaboration more connections and more trust, all of which has given residents and officers the basis on which to build authentic relationships which is at the heart of community policing, working together to solve problems that are top-of-mind for residents," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot was asked if it’s appropriate to be using police department resources for her personal life, as officers stand guard outside her home.

“This is a different time like no other, Lightfoot said. "Given the threats to my home and my family that they are protected. We are living in a different time. My home, my wife, my 12-year-old, and my neighbors safe.”

As this initiative gets underway, a number of aldermen believe it doesn’t go far enough, and they’re planning to meet in special session Friday.