Community activists gather to discuss CPD issues

On Feb. 5, Little Village residents, community activists and representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU) gathered at the Little Village Community Council to discuss the community’s relationship with the Chicago Police Department (CPD).

Baltazar Enriguez, a council board member and interim vice president, believes that residents have trouble trusting law enforcement.  He wants to see the community push CPD toward establishing long-term outreach programs and directing more overall resources to minority neighborhoods.

“As minorities, they (the CPD) always put us at the end,” said Enriguez.

Evidence submitted by the ACLU and Central Austin Neighborhood Association (CANA) in a 2011 lawsuit supports this allegation.

According to the official complaint filed by the ACLU and CANA, the response time to 911 calls is substantially longer in minority neighborhoods and constitutes a violation of civil rights.

The city has thus far denied FOIA requests filed by the ACLU seeking to obtain data on “radio assignments pending” (RAP) statuses but has provided information regarding average response times for priority one calls, those emergencies involving imminent danger to life or property.  In September 2013 the average dispatch time in Little Village was 5 minutes, 29 seconds.  In comparison, the average dispatch time in Jefferson Park was 2 minutes, 49 seconds. Neither average includes the time it takes police officers to thereafter arrive on the scene.

The lawsuit was dismissed in 2012 but reinstated by an appellate court in November 2013.  Karen Sheley, staff counsel at the ACLU, said that a trial is expected by next month.

A decision in the lawsuit, Sheley said, will impact neighborhoods across Chicago.  Residents interested in discussing experiences with Chicago emergency response services can reach Karen Sheley by calling the ACLU at 312-201-9740.

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