Building Bridges: CP4P Community Violence Intervention Professionals and CPD Unite to Tackle Chicago Gun Violence

Community violence intervention (CVI) professionals and members of the Chicago Police Department come together for a Professional Understanding Session on Monday, March 18, 2024 at the Metropolitan Peace Academy in Pilsen.

Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) community violence intervention (CVI) professionals and representatives from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) met at the new Metropolitan Peace Academy (MPA) for a CVI and CPD Professional Understanding session. The workshop was the first of two sessions in which both groups are seeking to foster mutual understandings of each other’s roles in the public safety. With the shared goal of reducing gun violence in Chicago, both parties worked to collaborate effectively.

The day began with an overview of the shared vision and introduction from Deputy Director Fred Waller, followed by presentations from CVI professionals and the Chicago Police Department. MPA Senior Field Manager Jesus Salazar outlined roles and protocols for CP4P street outreach workers engaged in community violence intervention, while Commander Roderick Watson of the CPD Bureau of Patrol discussed ranks and duties within the police department. Commander Watson highlighted the importance of the session and future workshops, stating, “We are trying to bridge the gap of knowledge between each other. Knowledge is key.”

The agenda also included intensive scenario practices involving mixed teams. Some scenarios included potential responses to teen trends and miscommunications between outreach workers and the CPD. Both parties compared their procedures during the scenarios presented, leading to a combination of solutions when there is a crisis.

The interactive workshop required both groups to collaborate together on potential scenarios they would face out in the field.

During the sessions, the roots of CVI efforts were traced back to initiatives like Ceasefire. Participants spoke on the evolution of strategies aimed at addressing gun violence in Chicago. MPA Field Manager Charles DeCuire reflected on the transformation in the interactions between law enforcement and CVI. “The relationship between law enforcement and violence prevention was virtually non-existent, so to see the change and the collaborative efforts, it’s clear the respect has grown for street outreach,” he said.

Spirits were notably high throughout the meeting, with both parties expressing hope and optimism regarding the potential impact of their collaboration on creating a safer Chicago.

“What we’re doing is trailblazing in a way that is not being done in other communities” said Elvis Ortega, Director of Community Engagement from the Mayor’s office.

Dr. Vanessa DeReef, Chief Training Officer of the Metropolitan Peace Academy, reflected on the day’s proceedings, noting the engagement and enthusiasm of all participants. “Everybody leaned in, and we had a really robust conversation. Everybody walked away feeling good and excited about how it’s going to show up in the field. It symbolizes once again the growth of the MPA,” she remarked.

This first workshop in the CVI and CPD Professional Understanding series marks a pivotal moment in Chicago safety. With a shared commitment to reducing gun violence in Chicago, the collaborative efforts and mutual respect displayed by CP4P CVI professionals and CPD provide a hopeful outlook for the future of community safety.