The Chicago Police Department is calling on residents to become beat facilitators of their districts. Through the motto “Stand Up and Speak Out Chicago,” the department calls on community residents and business owners to work with the police to improve public safety in their areas.
Beat facilitators are residents or business owners of a specific police beat who volunteer to be the liaison between the community and the police. They work closely with each district’s office of community policing, also known as Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy to co-chair and help facilitate beat meetings. Beat facilitators represent the residents’ interests, identify community needs and communicate with residents, business owners and police officers in their beat. Thus, beat facilitators often reside or work in the beat they represent.
“We want to start Austin as [a community where] I’m not running the beat meetings, the community is,” said Sgt. Edgar Brown of the 15th Chicago Police District at a community policing faith-based meeting last week. “In my mind, I shouldn’t be running the beat meeting. I should be there to listen.”
To effectively organize its presence citywide, the Chicago Police Department has determined geographic and jurisdictional divisions that officers are assigned to patrol, also known as beats. Several beats make up a police district, led by a District Commander. The Austin neighborhood is covered by two police districts, the 15th Chicago Police District and the 25th Chicago Police District. Both districts regularly organize beat meetings to hear residents’ concerns and engage with community members through their corresponding community policing office. To find your beat, visit https://home.chicagopolice.org/community-policing-group/beat-meetings/
At beat meetings, beat facilitators help facilitate the conversation, bring up issues and concerns that beat residents have and share resources. The goal is to inform police of the areas that residents have identified as priorities and learn about the efforts and strategies of the police department.
“Beat facilitators bring people together to discuss the issues, we help put what the community is asking for together, whatever stats you wanna see,” Brown said, adding the beat meetings are opportunities for residents to ask about the public safety trends and statistics in their beats.
As head of the 15th District Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy office, Brown works closely with Austin community members to address their concerns and implement programs that specifically address certain community groups’ needs, such as youth, faith leaders and senior citizens. As part of the CAPS office, less than a dozen police officers are assigned to specific duties. There is an officer assigned to domestic violence cases, helping connect victims with service providers and addressing specific safety concerns, an officer assigned to maintain relationships with business owners and faith leaders, an officer assigned to address the needs of youth, an officer assigned to serve senior citizens, an officer assigned to be the block club liaison, and a couple of officers tasked to serve residents and youth more broadly. Together, they build relationships with residents, facilitate resources and partner to keep residents informed and engaged. The long-term goal is to increase trust and accountability between police officers and community members.
To become a beat facilitator, residents complete a written application, participate in a personal interview with the District Commander and undergo a personal background investigation. Beat facilitators commit to voluntarily co-chair beat meetings and fulfill their duties as beat facilitators. All beat facilitators receive training from the Chicago Police Department.
To apply to become a beat facilitator, visit https://tinyurl.com/beatfacilitator