Northwestern University researchers found that the Chicago Police Department's Neighborhood Policing Initiative has not reached its goal of strengthening the department's relationship with the community and reducing crime because the department diverted its resources back into routine patrol work, the Chicago Sun Times reports. After the police department came under the oversight of a court-appointed monitor in 2019, it launched the Neighborhood Policing Initiative, in which a team of experts from New York University’s Policing Project were to work with a team of officers whose time was to be dedicated to positive interactions with residents in small areas of the city, focused on “problem-solving” rather than responding to 911 calls or patrolling. But as the pilot program expanded from one district to 10, the study authors found CPD has often taken those officers out of neighborhoods and assigned them to patrol or special details as a result of staffing shortfalls.
The result has been frustration for “community ambassadors” who volunteer to work with the often-absent community officers, and no apparent impact on crime levels or community trust in officers, according to the report by Northwestern’s CORNERS initiative. “Despite the best efforts and intentions of individuals close to the project — within CPD, the Policing Project, CNPI communities, and the City of Chicago — the work of this relatively small group has understandably not overcome the barriers presented by a department that has struggled to commit to full implementation of CNPI as a department-wide community policing strategy,” the report states. The report states that the CNPI officers reported spending as much as 80% of their time filling in for beat officers on patrol, often far from the small sectors of the city that are their assigned neighborhood policing areas. Even so, CPD has announced that the program will expand to all of its 22 districts by the end of 2023.