Chicago Police Department seeks improvement after Department of Justice investigation

The newly formed Community Policing Advisory Panel, part of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), met for the first time on Tuesday, Jan. 17. According to the Chicago Tribune, the purpose of the panel is to bring about changes to CPD’s community policing strategy. The panel consists of 12 people who will meet several more times over the next two months and present their recommendations to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson at the end of March.
The past year has been a difficult one for Chicago in terms of crime. NBC Chicago reports that there were 762 homicides in Chicago in 2016, more than New York and Los Angeles combined, and the most the city has seen in 20 years. This was a major increase from the 485 homicides in 2015, the largest spike in 60 years. The number of shootings also increased by 1,100 from 2015.
The majority of these deaths and shootings were concentrated in five of the 22 police districts in Chicago, all of which are predominantly black areas on the South and West sides of the city. The experts on the panel believe that the massive number of homicides this year is correlated with the distrust between the police and the community.
Furthermore, the United States Department of Justice released a report on Jan. 13 finding that CPD had violated constitutional rights by using excessive force and violence. The investigation revealed that the department has not been adequately training its officers or properly reviewing incidents of violence to determine whether violence was necessary.
Johnson hopes to improve the department by better engaging with the community, through “targeted enforcement missions,” and improved relations with the U.S. and state attorney’s offices. The department also hopes to build trust in the community by training new recruits to build relationships with local small business owners and citizens who want to reduce violence.
“In the ’90s, we were the leader in community policing throughout the country and we kind of lost some of that luster, but we fully intend on returning to the number one position,” Johnson said. “We are going to reform as an agency. We are going to move forward to be the best.”

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