Strengthening Relations between Police and Minority Communities in Chicago

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Strengthening Relations
Between Police and Minority Communities
Ensuring accountability for effective policing
in Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods

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Strengthening Relations Between
CPD’s Goal:
The Best Service Possible

Progress Thus Far
As he began his third year as the top cop in
Chicago, Police Superintendent Terry Hillard
took time to reflect on the Department and the
progress that has been made during his tenure.
• Community policing strategy—CAPS—
recognized as one of the most successful
community/police partnerships in the
country.
• Major strides in crime reduction.
• Many Department members demonstrating
compassion and courage in their day-to-day
work.

“What the Superintendent has embarked
upon is a beginning and not an end — an
intelligent discussion about the performance of the police department as it relates to the community” — Community Participant

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C H I C A G O

P O L I C E

Although the prognosis was good, Hillard
knew the positive outlook was not shared by
all—especially in some of the City's minority
communities. In a letter to community leaders
Hillard stated, “I believe our relationship with
the community today is stronger than ever. Like
the head of any good customer-oriented business, however, my job is to ensure we provide the best service possible.”
Similar to many other major city police
departments, in recent months tensions have
sprung up between police and the members of
some of Chicago's minority communities.
Knowing that he would not be able to fully
accomplish his goals—goals that recognize that
without all of the community's support and
trust, the Department's best efforts would fail—
Hillard decided to take on the issue of race relations between Chicago Police and the citizens they serve. He decided to examine the practices
and policies that may be causing the tension and
the perceptions that feed them. Recognizing that
to do this without the involvement of the community partners that have made CAPS so successful would be foolhardy, he decided upon a proactive approach—ask the customer.

D E P A R T M E N T



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Police and Chicago’s Minority Communities
Asking the Customers

The Right Mix

Hillard decided to go right to the source—
the leaders of some of the City's minority communities—for a clear reading on the problem, real or perceived. He decided to sponsor a daylong forum on race relations between police and Chicago's minority communities. To facilitate

the forum, he reached out to Dr. Chuck Wexler,
the Executive Director of the Police Executive
Research Forum (PERF). PERF is a Washington
DC-based organization dedicated to improving
policing and advancing professionalism through
research and involvement in public policy
debate. Wexler had previously been successful in
convening a group of the nation's major police
chiefs and a community representative from
their jurisdictions to discuss police/community
race relations.

Wexler talked it out with Hillard and his
executive command staff. They decided for the
discussion to be fruitful is was essential to have
the right mix of people at the table. First, it was
agreed that personal invitations would be made
to an equal number of police and community
representatives and that the group size would
not exceed 32 members. In addition to his top
command
staff,
Hillard
hand-picked
Department members from all ranks to participate in the forum. In recruiting the community leaders, Hillard looked for people who would
“tell it like it is”—those who had previously
voiced their criticism of the Department when it
was deserved, but who were also willing to be
supportive of the Department's efforts when that
was warranted. Although a letter of invitation
was sent, Hillard personally reached out to
many...
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