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Community Policing in Chicago, Year Ten: An Evaluation of Chicago's Alternative Policing Strategy

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2004
165 pages
This eighth report on Chicago's community policing program, known as the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), examines its progress through the end of 2003, more than 10 years after its inauguration in April 1993.
CAPS was expanded to the entire city after testing in five police districts. Under the program, teams of officers have relatively long-term assignments in each of the city's 279 police beats. The teams are expected to spend most of their time responding to calls and working on prevention projects. To free them up for these assignments, rapid response units are assigned excess or low-priority calls. All officers have been trained in a five-step problem-solving process, and problem-solving efforts of beat officers are supported by a coordinated system for delivering city services. A commitment to community involvement in public-safety planning and activities is reflected in beat meetings and district advisory committees. The first section of this report summarizes what researchers have learned about citizen involvement in the program through an analysis of beat meetings and district advisory committees. The next section describes changes over time in residents' assessments of the quality of police service. This is followed by a description of trends in crime and fear of crime in the city's neighborhoods. CAPS problem-solving efforts and trends in neighborhood problems are then described. Next, the report presents an in-depth look at conditions in the Latino community. The report concludes with an analysis of new management initiatives within the police department, which are intended to enhance the implementation of departmental priorities. This evaluation concludes that although residents continue to attend beat meetings in large numbers, the evaluation could not give a top mark to "public involvement," because several issues have persisted over the years, namely, the limited action component of beat meetings, the turnover in officers who attend the meetings, and the failure of beat officers to include the issues raised by residents in their reports to headquarters. CAPS is given a top grade for "agency partnerships," since every relevant agency is making an effort to support problem-solving at the beat and district level. CAPS is also given an "A" for reorganizing the police department to support community policing. The lowest grade, a "C", is given to "problem-solving," since efforts to solve local priority problems have not been effective. The same problems in the same locations persist year after year. Officers have had no refresher training in problem-solving, and resident activists have not been provided any training opportunities. Effective problem-solving requires intensive training, close supervision, strong analytical capacity, and an organization-wide commitment to the effort. 7 tables and 26 figures