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Latino State News

Community Policing in Chicago Has Uncertain Future

Being discussed by Chicago mayoral and aldermen candidates recently is the issue of the city’s crime. With all the discussion, the future of community policing is uncertain.

As debate over its effectiveness and worries about budgeting continue, community policing, which emphasizes “community involvement and preventive action”, is looking like it may be cut.

Community policing was one of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s policy initiatives, but as candidates talk of making drastic changes if elected, like replacing current Superintendent Jody Weis, one can only wonder what else will change.

The question of community policing’s effectiveness in many, if not all Chicago neighborhoods, comes just after the release of the 2010 Chicago crime statistics. Though the numbers showed the homicide rate of the city is now the lowest it has been since 1965, it also pointed out that the rate in the Humboldt park neighborhood is still far higher than the others’, and not just in homicides.

At a meeting last Monday, Humboldt Park resident and police officers noted that the drug trade in the area is still a major issue. According to the 2010 report, in November and December, residents of the two-block stretch of North Ridgeway Avenue had called the police 127 times. On average, that’s more than twice a week.

Even though concern in the area is high, attendance at meetings like last Monday’s are low, only drawing more speculation as to whether community policing is worth the cost anymore.

Last week, Superintendant Jody Weis said the Chicago Police Department was still committed to community policing, and stated, “ Every officer from me to the newest patrol officer needs to embrace the theory and the concept. If we don’t, there’s not enough police officers that any city can hire that will keep the city safe.”

With Weis possibly losing his position, pending the outcome of the upcoming election, the fate of community policing in Chicago could be dismal.