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Police summer mobile patrol unit to get more officers, participate in community service projects once a week

In addition to being deployed to crime “hot spots,” the officers will also be attending prayer circles, peace and neighborhood clean up efforts.

City workers and police officers attend a press conference in West Woodlawn Friday morning, July 10, 2020. Chicago Police Department announced the launch of “Summer Mobile Patrol,” a collaborative, community policing effort among police, other city agencies and community members.
City workers and police officers took part in a neighborhood cleanup Friday in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The Chicago Police Department’s summer mobile patrol unit will be participating in community service projects once a week in an effort to build trust in the communities where it works — largely on the South and West sides.

The unit, which began being deployed to crime “hot spots” across the city May 21, will also receive an additional 66 officers in the next few days, boosting its ranks to more than 200, Supt. David Brown announced Friday at a news conference in Woodlawn, where officers gathered to participate in a neighborhood cleanup.

“When an area looks good, the residents feel good about themselves and their neighborhood, and that makes a community safer,” Brown said.

Prayer circles, peace marches and delivering food and face masks to seniors are examples of other weekly community engagement efforts the officers will participate in.

“These officers can be deployed anywhere in the city at a moment’s notice, however, this is not a roving strike force. Let me repeat that. This is not a roving strike force. These officers are called upon by the district commanders throughout the city, and they are here to supplement local efforts to keep people safe and save lives,” Brown said.

The summer mobile patrol unit is similar to but separate from a citywide violent crime unit announced this week after three consecutive weekends with at least 65 people shot and multiple children killed.

“This summer will serve as a building structure for the department as we create a specialized citywide unit to tackle violent crime and create community partnerships in some of Chicago’s most challenging areas,” Brown said.

The police department also announced Friday the creation of a new position within its ranks to improve access for people with limited English proficiency.

The new job of “language access coordinator” was created to “ensure meaningful access to CPD programs and services for individuals with limited ability to speak, read or write in English,” according to a news release issued Friday.

The role is being filled by Roxana Cortes, who previously served with Chicago Public Schools as a translation specialist.

Part of her job will be implementing an accreditation system to ensure the language skills of multilingual officers. More than 1,200 officers have self-identified as possessing some level of proficiency in languages ranging from Spanish to Romanian.

The job is part of the police department’s effort to come into compliance with reforms required by the federal consent decree.