Thousands of residents around the City are working every day to make Chicago’s neighborhoods cleaner and safer for our families, children and senior citizens. Each does their part in ways that work for them. Here are some of the ways that you and your neighbors can get involved in making your neighborhood safer.
Attend Your Beat Meeting
In order to stay informed about emerging crime and disorder issues, you should try to attend your beat meeting on a regular basis. Beat meetings are held by the Police Department on a regular basis, often once a month, in each of the City’s 281 beats. At the meeting, residents and beat officers discuss priority crime and disorder issues, as well as develop strategies to address those issues. Attending your beat meeting will give you the opportunity to get to know the officers that work on your beat, provide information about your and your neighbors concerns to police, meet other residents in your beat who may be working on similar issues, and bring back the latest information from police to your neighbors. And by using the five-step problem solving model, each beat meeting should be the beginning of developing successful law enforcement, City service and community-based strategies to attack problems in your neighborhood.
Get Involved with Your District Advisory Committee
Each District Commander has a District Advisory Committee whose function is to provide advice on and organized community based strategies to address the underlying conditions in the district that can contribute to crime and disorder. Each District Advisory Committee should represent the broad spectrum of stakeholders in the community: residents; businesses; churches and other house of worship; libraries; park; schools; and community-based organizations. Participating with your District Advisory Committee will allow you to help shape policies in your community that can have a long lasting impact on crime.
Successful partnerships with the community don’t stop when an arrest is made. Victims, and your community, need your support in court. Many times the community is the victim of the crime and by attending court hearings you can be an advocate for your community. Being a part of the judicial process can also be a daunting experience. Victims and witnesses are sometimes intimidated by the process and the defendant. Court Advocates provide the necessary brace that some victims and witnesses need to continue with their case and testimony. By attending court, Advocates send a strong message to the defendant and the judicial system that they are interested in their community, its problems, possible solutions and will not accept things as the once were.
Each Police District has a Court Advocacy Subcommittee. Information regarding crime trends and victims and witnesses of crime are discussed. When arrests are made in these cases, Court Advocates organize volunteers to attend court. Cases Advocates follow can range from violent crimes, such as murder or sexual assault, to drug dealing and public drinking, to abandoned buildings and negligent landlords and problem liquor stores.
Volunteers can also deliver community impact statements in narcotics conspiracy cases, demonstrating the devastating impact that narcotics sales have on the entire community; in Illinois, this option can also be exercised in felony prostitution cases.
Each district has a Senior Citizen subcommittee that is designed to provide a venue for seniors to discuss crime and disorder issues that directly impact their lives. Most district subcommittees meet monthly and offer seniors important information on issues ranging from identity theft to personal safety to home safety. Many districts also offer opportunities for seniors to visit other neighborhoods and City landmarks, as well as inter-generational programs that reconnect seniors with young people in our neighborhoods.
On a daily basis in Chicago, there is an average of almost 600 domestic violence related calls for service. Domestic violence is not just a criminal justice or social service issue – it is a community concern and committed people throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods are taking an active role in addressing it. One way you can help impact domestic violence in your community is by working with your district’s Domestic Violence Subcommittee. These subcommittees develop projects and initiatives that raise public awareness of the impact of domestic violence on families and communities, as well as providing direct support to victims of domestic violence and their families.