Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy today announced the revitalization of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), the nearly 20-year-old community policing program that emphasizes strong cooperation between neighborhood residents and police.
“Community policing is a philosophy, and the strength of that philosophy within the Chicago Police Department and in our communities is more critical now than ever before,” said Mayor Emanuel. “CAPS is an important partnership between residents and police, and it’s time to revitalize the program by giving District Commanders responsibility and authority to tailor programs for individual communities.”
The revitalization focuses on decentralizing CAPS resources, which will allow key decisions regarding community policing to be made at the district level instead of Police Headquarters, and training every officer in community policing strategies, including procedural justice and police legitimacy.
The changes are being made to provide greater authority and accountability to District Commanders, who will be responsible for the success of their plans, and to provide every officer – not just CAPS officers – the tools and training needed to follow those plans, engage residents and develop relationships that can prevent crime.
“The needs in each neighborhood we serve are unique; therefore, we cannot apply a cookie-cutter approach to CAPS outreach and services,” said Superintendent Garry McCarthy. “Commanders will be accountable for creating successful programs, but we are also providing new tools and technologies to engage Chicagoans as well as gauge the performance of each program.”
McCarthy also noted the Police Department already confiscated 180 guns in 2013, demonstrating the opportunity for more cooperation between residents and officers in removing guns from communities and helping to prevent violence.
More than 2,500 police officers and 400 recruits have already completed the training on procedural justice and police legitimacy, which teaches officers to treat residents fairly and with respect to earn their trust, demonstrate their importance in maintaining social order and manage conflicts, and ultimately improve officer safety and efficiency. The entire department will undergo the training.
Each police district will be assigned a CAPS Sergeant and two police officers, as well as a community organizer and a shared youth services provider. In addition, four citywide coordinators will oversee community policing programs targeted at some of our most vulnerable populations, including the Victim Assistance Section, the Senior and Community Outreach Section, the Domestic Violence Section and the Youth Services Section.
Enlisting input from community stakeholders, District Commanders will develop a deployment plan to best utilize their available resources to achieve the highest quality of life in their communities.
District commanders will be responsible for regular review of community policing efforts, and will strive to ensure the work is successful in addressing the needs of the community. Commanders will also be responsible for cementing a positive and productive relationship between police officers and neighborhood residents and businesses.
The efforts of CAPS officers in response to the needs identified in the District Commander’s plan will be included in the Chicago Police Department’s overall performance management system, also known as CompStat.
“The District Commanders understand the importance of CAPS, and they also know they are responsible for creating strategies that have a visible impact on crime,” said McCarthy.
These changes reflect Mayor Emanuel’s and Superintendent McCarthy’s commitment to restoring an effective community policing structure to the Department while providing the best possible services to the residents of Chicago.