The Chicago Police Department's new Community Policing Advisory Panel held its first meeting on Tuesday, just days after the U.S. Department of Justice released its report finding that CPD has violated constitutional rights through a pattern of excessive force.
The panel is dedicated to developing a new strategic plan for community policing, an area in which the DOJ specifically noted that the city is lacking.
“Our goal is to make CPD the model law enforcement agency across the country," Supt. Eddie Johnson said during Tuesday's meeting at Chicago police headquarters.
The panel consists of national experts in the field, Chicago community leaders and members of CPD leadership - all determined to make the city safer.
"Community policing, community engagement and an approach to enhancing trust and confidence in policing is really needed in Chicago right now," said panel member Tracey Meares, a law professor at Yale University who served on President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Chicago had a community policing program, known as CAPS, in place long before the panel was formed in 2016, according to Johnson, who said it has seen successes in the past.
"In the 90's, we were the leader in community policing throughout the country and we've kind of lost some of that luster," Johnson said, "but we fully intend on returning back to that number one position."
The formation of the new panel came not just following the DOJ's investigation, but after Chicago saw its deadliest year in two decades with more than 762 homicides - which experts say is a inextricably linked to the lack of trust between police and the communities they serve.
“The number one thing we need to understand is that the violence problem that Chicago is experiencing is also a function of the need for police reform," said Meares, adding that engagement key to building trust.
"It has to be infused throughout what the department does, it has to be a way of doing business, not just a tactic," she said.
The panel plans to meet several more times before making recommendations on best practices to Supt. Johnson by March.