Counterpoint: Chicago police are committed to treating citizens fairly

SHARE Counterpoint: Chicago police are committed to treating citizens fairly

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. | Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times

A recent study by the ACLU has raised questions and concerns that deserve to be addressed about the way we police in this city.


Everyone in Chicago shares a common goal when it comes to public safety – that every resident in every neighborhood realizes the same level of safety. I fundamentally believe that the only way to achieve that goal is by building trust with community leaders and residents.

That means that everyone – from our newest recruits up to those who hold this office – must work continuously to maintain the trust of the communities we serve while working to build the partnerships that will allow us to work together to improve the safety of our city. That’s why community policing is the foundation of our policing philosophy.

Over the past four years we engaged residents, faith leaders and community leaders in a dialogue on this issue, implemented new procedures and instituted new mandatory training around understanding, fairness and respect.

Yet, I recognize those efforts can seem contradicted by a concerning report like the one issued by ACLU about the demographics of people stopped by police.

Good policing and civil rights can’t be an either-or proposition.

Part of police work involves interviewing people, but people should be stopped based only on crime data and crime information. Nothing else. So we have provided additional training to officers to reinforce CPD’s explicit ban on racial profiling, and we will continue to reinforce the importance of this going forward.

I know we can always do better, and over the past year we have also taken important steps to improve our use of contact cards, which are not a program but simply document stops.

Officers are now required to document more details explaining why a contact card was issued in any circumstance. The revised policy requires our officers to more directly focus on those interactions that lead to an investigatory stop. New training was added to reinforce these new policies. Finally, new levels of supervision and accountability were added to ensure compliance throughout the department.

Having said that, we can always do better.

In order to do our jobs effectively, we must continue to earn the trust of every resident in every community of Chicago. We remain committed to our philosophy of community policing, and to working closely with the public to reduce crime. We cannot and will not rest until every community enjoys the same level of safety and every resident feels that they are respected in that process.

That remains our ultimate goal and by working together, we will continue to make more progress toward achieving that goal every day.

Garry McCarthy is superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.

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