A fascinating article in the Chicago Tribune examines the complicated relationship between Chicago residents, police officers, and gangs.
Obviously, our communities want to be safe, and to see an end to the gun violence that takes the lives of so many of our young people. But that does not mean flooding the streets with more police officers is the solution.
Chicago’s youth are relentlessly stopped, harassed and disrespected by police; and view the CPD as “just another gang.”
These negative run-ins with police have fostered a culture of anger, fear, and distrust; major obstacles to stemming the tide of violence in the city.
Richard Porter, 17, said he’s seen Chicago police officers stop and frisk so many people in his neighborhood that when a squad car rolls up, he and his friends automatically “assume the position.”
Martrell Harris, 16, said his only encounter with the police included an officer questioning him on the street, blowing cigarette smoke in his face and then letting him go on his way.
Dionna Rice, 17, lamented that even girls have to deal with random police stops. “If you say, ‘What’s the problem?’ it’s like they get offended,” Rice said. “If you ask them why you’re being stopped, they get mad. They have total power over you.”
As a result, no matter how embattled a community becomes, some residents bristle at the idea of police deploying more officers to their neighborhood. Even the latest plan by police to increase foot patrols in 20 high-crime zones caused concern among residents who like the idea but fear it may only mean more law-abiding youths will be arrested.
The CPD says it plans to launch a campaign counteracting the “no snitching” mentality, encouraging cooperation with police.
Additionally, officers will receive training on how to gain the respect of the community.
Thoughts on this story?
What will it take to improve relations between the police and the community?
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