For years, Mayor Richard M. Daley has touted Chicago's brand of community policing in speeches, press conferences, media reports and the city's own marketing materials. But for years some critics have wondered just how committed Daley actually has been to a program that never seemed fully implemented.
Now those critical voices are being raised anew amidst budget cuts that include a 25 percent staff reduction in the program and a $1.5 million cut in the program's Implementation Office.
"Overtime has been taken off the table. Beat officers don't have to show up (at regular neighborhood meetings). Now, a third of the staff is gone. That is effectively the end of community policing in Chicago at the worst possible time," the influential Rev. Marshall Hatch, chairman of the Leaders Network and a close observer of the police department, tells the Sun-Times.
It's an odd place to cut given that police chief Jody Weis has said that the best approach to fighting gangs is to make them a useful part of the community. At the same time, Weis may be re-evaluating the department's approach to community policing, having recalled to the Reader in July that "When I came here 12 years ago [as an FBI agent] I was invited to a meeting with people doing community policing and all the evaluations of it, and they asked me what I thought. I suggested they invite young people and gang members and ask them what’s going on. That was the last meeting I was invited to."
It's not clear Weis was invited to the meeting where his budget was set either; the Sun-Times attributes the move solely to Daley. Communities, also, were left out of the process.