Reducing Violence in the Age of COVID-19

This blog is written by Dion McGill, SCY Communications and Community Outreach Manager. (Posted November 10, 2020)

While many eyes are on the increasing surge of COVID-19 as we move into the fall and winter of 2020, the epidemic of gun violence that Chicagoans are all too familiar with continues to leave it’s mark on our city with no signs of slowing down as well.  Unfortunately this past weekend, 43 people were shot, 6 of those fatally, across the city.

However, Chicago CRED recently came together with various other violence prevention organizations to explore solutions for Chicago’s violence problem.  After conducting nine focus groups which consisted of over 200 community participants, Chicago CRED has put out The Reimagining Public Safety Report.  According to the report,

“CRED believes a nuanced and thoughtful discussion, rooted in best practices and data and driven by authentic voices from affected communities, is needed on the proper role for police to promote a broader definition of public safety.”

The report urges all Chicago stakeholders to reimagine public safety from the ground up, including what exactly that looks like, who is responsible for creating it, and what investment in this new incarnation looks like.

One key point that arose from the community-based focus groups, was that most of the participants disagreed with calls to abolish the Chicago Police Department. However, the conversations did reveal deep-seated frustration with CPD within the violence prevention community.  According to the report,

“The violence plaguing parts of the South and West sides is a symptom of deeper social issues that cannot be policed away.”

I encourage you to give the report a read.  Additional highlights include:

  • An echo of the results of a city budget survey that found 85% of respondents supported funding social services and other programs by shifting money out of the police budget.
  • Calls for greater social services, including mental health, housing and job assistance.
  • Violence prevention advocates felt police have been ineffective at violent crimes, often being reactive rather than proactive.
  • Sentiments that police are necessary in some situations, but that it should be reexamined to determine when policing is an appropriate strategy, rather than a catchall solution.

We look forward to discussion around this report, and any resulting response from the city.  Let me know what you think of this report and its implications for increased safety in the city of Chicago.

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