Kenwood residents react to policing policies

January 31, 2013

Dhyia Thompson lives a block away from the kid-friendly park where Hadiya Pendleton was killed Tuesday night.

Ironically, Thompson said there’s always police presence on that quiet strip where she often walks her dog.

She’s part of Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville, a community group that starts in North Kenwood and stretches west. Thompson said when the streets get hot, Chicago police are deployed - but only for a short spell. Then they’re sent to the next hot spot.

“They built a relationship with businesses and residents. They know who the problem people are,” Thompson said. “We lose that whole momentum and lose all those positive attributes of cleaning up the crime in that particular area because those particular police officers were deployed.”

But Thompson said she is happy to hear the about the department’s move to redeploy officers.

“What they do with those police officers and how they deploy them is another story. We have police officers in these communities but if they’re not effectively working and on those beats and listening and understanding what’s happening on the streets, then it’s going to be inefficient,” Thompson said.

J. Brian Malone, executive director of Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, said the issue isn’t so much more police but effective policing.

“A lot of times we think the answer is just more boots on the streets but that’s just a small part of the strategy. McCarthy has talked about restoring to the beat cop model is a good idea and recognizes you need community input, community engagement. Our mayor doesn’t seem to value you that,” Malone said.

The area is now in one of the consolidated police districts - a move many residents opposed. And Malone said a number of the shootings in the area are a result of public school mergers.

“Young people were placed in schools that were from different neighborhoods. People stayed on their side of the line. [There are] fights when you cross lines and create a climate of violence,” Malone said.