CPD rolls out new community policing program

It is “the most significant commitment of effort, resources and leadership to building trust in CPD history,” Supt. David Brown said of changes that include officers acting as liaisons to marginalized groups, such as immigrants.

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Deputy Chief Angel Novalez chokes up Friday, June 4 at a press conference after Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown made the surprise announcement Novalez would be promoted from commander. Novalez will head up CPD’s revamped community policing program.

Deputy Chief Angel Novalez chokes up Friday, after Chicago Police Supt. David Brown announced Novalez would be promoted from commander. Novalez will head up CPD’s revamped community policing program.

Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown on Friday announced a “transformative” new approach to community policing for the nation’s second-largest police department.

The department will expand its community policing program into three additional districts to cover the entirety of the city’s South and West sides; create officer liaisons to make outreach with marginalized groups including immigrants, homeless and LGBTQ community; and direct all officers to create positive interactions with residents, such as “problem-solving conversations” or coaching youth sports.

“Today, we are taking a big swing at community policing and community engagement, and building trust. This will be the most significant commitment of effort, resources and leadership to building trust in CPD history,” Brown said at a news conference at CPD headquarters.

“This plan is the best way to reduce crime in Chicago. .... CPD has never been this aggressive with community policing. This is a transformative moment for CPD.”

The announcement comes near the start of summer, when the city’s violent crime rates have historically climbed as temperatures rise. The shift also comes also against a backdrop of protests over police brutality nationwide in recent years, including the 2015 shooting of Laquan McDonald by a CPD officer and police shootings that claimed the life of 13-year-old Adam Toledo this spring.

The department has had a community policing program since the 1990s rollout of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy and has redoubled efforts at community outreach since falling under a federal consent decree in 2019. The new initiative will see more officers involved with young people through the Police Athletic and Arts League program, and will expand the department’s existing Neighborhood Policing Initiative from seven districts to 10.

The department will add “affinity liaison” officers in each of the city’s 22 policing districts, positions that will be filled by officers with the academic background or life experience allowing them to better connect with minority and LGBTQ residents. The department also will add staff to the Civil Rights Unit, which is primarily tasked with handling hate crimes.

“We recognized that marginalized communities needed their voices elevated,” said Commander Angel Novalez, who has headed up CPD’s community policing programs since last year. “We understood that our relationships with these communities were not where we wanted them to be.”

Novalez also received a surprise promotion during the press conference, and the veteran officer appeared to choke up as Brown swore him in as a deputy chief of community policing.

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