Dowell Statement on Public Safety + Community Meeting

August 29, 2018
6:00 pmto8:00 pm

Dear Neighbor:

After another weekend of tragic shootings and escalating tensions, it continues to be painfully clear that we as a City have a long way to go to help ensure that all residents in all neighbors of Chicago can live peacefully without the strain of senseless violence. While I am very hopeful that both the consent decree being drafted and the increases in police staffing for the districts hardest hit by violence will have a meaningful effect on the lives of my residents, a lot more needs to be done to stop the shootings on our streets. To that end, Alderman Sophia King (4th) and I are hosting a combined 2nd Police District Public Safety Meeting on Wednesday, August 29th at 6:00 pm at Morningstar Baptist Church (3993 S. King Dr.). Join us to meet your local police officials, establish stronger relationships and learn about what they are doing to protect our community. A similar meeting is being arranged for the 9th District.

The Chicago Black Aldermanic Caucus recently released a statement advocating for additional funding for not only police, but for wrap-around social services, workforce development, residential and commercial development, mental health services, and other programs that can stem the tide of violence and help our neighborhoods grow. Investing in our communities needs to happen right now. These dollars must be invested in indigenous community organizations and groups that are already embedded and working in our neighborhoods, respected and trusted by the community and have a proven track record of delivering results.

Above and beyond those investments, I believe there are a lot of other ideas that can be implemented to improve resident safety.

We need to do everything possible to repair the relationship and establish trust between the community and the Chicago Police Department. The police can’t police at their highest level without the eyes, ears and voices of the community. Please, work with the police to get these violent offenders off the street. If you don’t feel comfortable working directly with the police, you can call my office anonymously to discuss your public safety concerns.

We must improve the City’s crime clearance rate, which means hiring more detectives and more cooperation from residents. Other similarly sized cities are able to close a far higher percentage of their cases than we are able to. Unsolved crimes mean that policing is no longer an effective deterrent for criminal behavior. If criminals know they will not be held accountable for their actions, they will be emboldened to continue to commit crimes.

We must conduct a full-scale review of police deployment to ensure that police are assigned to the areas of highest need. The City has discussed this idea before, but my colleagues and I have been met with strong opposition. The current system of police deployment is inadequate and ineffective and must be revisited. Police resources have to be deployed where they can be most efficiently effective – the continued saturation of violence in specific communities demand this common-sense solution.

Last, we need to invest in our families. While every situation is unique and there is no one guidebook for parenting, we as a City must invest in parents and legal guardians. A strong, well-grounded life at home can help children be more accountable and not resort to a life of crime. This gets back to the previously mentioned wrap-around services, jobs and other investments the Black Caucus identified. Investing in our families is an investment in our future.

As a city, we cannot wait for the situation in our neighborhoods to get better on its own or for wholesale changes to how policing is done in Chicago to be implemented. This affects us now and we must be act now. I am not waiting to make these improvements in my ward. I have already ordered multiple new POD cameras for the area and am in the process of requesting more cameras in conjunction with the new 2nd District Commander. These cameras will then be tied into the 2nd District’s new ShotSpotter system. Furthermore, each of the police districts that cover my ward has received dozens of new police officers to help protect the community. The 1st District is now the home of the citywide bicycle patrol unit. McCormick Place has increased and expanded their patrol unit in both size and scope. Along with my colleague Alderman King, we sponsor the “Safe Summer” program that employs community residents to provide safe passage for neighborhood youth around local city parks while they are out of school for the summer. In both 2016 and 2018 I surplused TIF money to give millions of dollars to my neighborhood schools to improve educational opportunities for students. I have opened new parks and park district facilities across the ward to give families a place to gather with their children. I brought hundreds of formerly vacant residential housing units back on line, constructed new single-family homes on vacant city-owned land and brought countless new businesses into the ward. I worked to secure hundreds of new permanent and temporary jobs in projects like the Rosenwald Courts Apartments, Wintrust Arena, the Marriott Marquis Hotel, the Hilton Tri-Brand Hotel, XS Tennis and more. I give away thousands of book bags, hundreds of turkeys and thousands of dollars’ worth of Christmas presents to needy families in my ward every year. These are just some of the many initiatives I have undertaken to improve the lives of residents in my ward so that there are viable alternatives to a life of crime.

I am constantly trying to address the issue of public safety and stop the violence. Together, I know we can make a change for the better.


Bronzeville Combined Public Safety Meeting 080818