CHICAGO — All Chicago Police Department command staff and some patrol officers are now required to participate in a new initiative, going door-to-door in some of the city’s most violent areas.
Some police sources question the timing of the new initiative, suggesting it’s a ploy by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to score political points in the weeks before the mayoral election.
In light of the news about Lightfoot’s campaign emailing Chicago Public Schools teachers, some police sources said they’re being used to campaign.
On Friday, citywide command staff and patrol officers met at the department’s 10th district before canvassing portions of North Lawndale and other areas on the west side as part of the new initiative.
West Side resident Jermaine Mansfield said he wants to see a response like this when crimes are reported.
“Where are all of these police squad cars when two shots fired, three shots fired, 10 shots fired, when a window gets blown out?” Mansfield asked.
The Chicago Police Department declined to go on camera but did provide a statement.
“Working alongside community members to solve problems and create solutions for safer neighborhoods is an essential part of our public safety effort,” the statement read. “The Crime Prevention Community Engagement Initiative (CPCEI) is another important opportunity to strengthen communication and partnership with our residents as we strive to make every neighborhood safer. This all-in effort includes CPD members, from community policing officers to Department leadership, as well as residents and community organizers working side by side.”
The initiative started Jan. 6. The command staff and patrol officers are supposed to meet one-on-one with residents and share crime prevention strategies and take requests for city services.
“There’s talk around headquarters that she’s literally using command staff exempt rank members to do campaigning on her crime stats from 2022 that are literally so over the top wonderful,” FOP President John Catanzara.
Lightfoot has stated publicly that she did not order the new initiative and CPD Superintendent David Brown and his leadership team created the program.
“I think it’s a good thing that the white shirts are out there leading by example and talking to community members about what resources are available for them, particularly focused on crime, using it as an opportunity — also, frankly, which happens through the DCO program and business liaison officers on a regular basis anyway — but using it as an opportunity for people about what city services are available for them,” Lightfoot said.
In spite of the new program, Mansfield said his neighborhood needs more resources when it comes to effectively responding to crime.
“Respond when you get a 911 call about shots being fired,” he said. “We are no more than maybe 150 feet away from the police station back door. It should always be and this is one of the highest crime blocks in the area.”
Mansfield is also questioning the intent of this initiative.
“They respond to what they want and I think it’s just for political gain to keep people in office that look good and to keep funds going and things of that nature,” Mansfield said.