Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
The City of Chicago faces a number of challenges involving public safety, as well as community confidence and trust in the police. The 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald, and the significant community concern it both sparked and revealed, served as a tipping point. Decades-long concerns about discriminatory policing, police accountability, use of force, external oversight, and community responsiveness had reached a point where matters needed to be addressed. Meanwhile, violent crime in Chicago surged, even as national violent crime rates hovered near historic lows. Although gun crime through the end of June 2019 reached a four-year low, crime and public safety remain significant civic concerns. Meanwhile, starting in 2020 and continuing 2021, despite pandemic-related lockdowns, Chicago's diverse communities experienced a precipitous upsurge in fatal and non-fatal shootings, aggravated vehicular hijackings and other crimes.
To address these issues, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has developed and is implementing a number of interlaced initiatives aimed at resolving crime and improving and sustaining police community relationships. Previously piloted in seven of CPD’s 22 police Districts, Chicago’s Neighborhood Policing Initiative (NPI) is a new community and collaborative policing program where officers regularly engage with residents in problem solving to build strong community relations. Officers who become part of the program are called District Coordination Officers and are taken off their regular duty of responding to radio calls. Instead, these officers are tasked with working directly with residents in their assigned area to address various concerns residents may have. Through these efforts, police are taking a proactive approach to policing and addressing issues before they become a possible crime or act of violence.
CPD will use FY22 Byrne Discretionary Community Program funds to hire an Assistant Director for NPI who will be responsible for expanding the current NPI implementation to 15 other police Districts, while strengthening and sustaining the program in the pilot Districts. Across 36 months, the person will work to institutionalize NPI by suggesting operational and organizational changes at CPD and will ensure program sustainability by working with city leadership and other public safety stakeholders.