As Reporter Jeff Kelly Lowenstein reveals in our collaboration with ColorLines magazine, the police department’s own practices must change dramatically for police to turn from foe to friend in the minds of many. It appears that a large percentage of those who shoot and kill have been sued before. And nearly all of them were affirmed to be under department guidelines.
The Chicago Police Department diverted nearly $2.2 million to a private, non-profit agency, which used the money to pay up to 30 civilian workers in the department’s community policing program from 1997 to 1999, an investigation by The Chicago Reporter shows. The agency, the Chicago Center for Health Systems Development Inc., was spun off from the Chicago Department of Public Health in 1994 to promote public health and supplement the department’s programs. The center had no direct connection to Chicago’s community policing program, officially known as the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy. Though legal, the transfer of funds effectively made the CAPS positions, whose duties include community organizing and promoting programs, hard to find in the city budget and hidden from public view, the Reporter found. It also shielded them from the 1983 Shakman consent decree, a federal order that forbids the city from requiring employees to do political work. The workers, who were hired as “community organizers,” were not city employees when they were paid by the center, said Jennifer Hoyle, spokeswoman for the city law department.
Kevin Conlon became senior class president of Rich Central High School in 1976 by appealing, in part, to students of different backgrounds. Using the same strategy in 1989, he became the first Democratic trustee on south suburban Rich Township’s five-member board. Three years later, for the first time, most township voters backed a Democratic presidential candidate–”Bill Clinton–” say top party officials and political experts. Conlon, who is white, says the influx of non-white voters is the primary reason: From 1990 to 1997, the African American population in Rich Township’s Richton Park jumped almost 80 percent, the Latino population in neighboring Park Forest rose by one-third and Flossmoor’s Asian population grew nearly 40 percent, according to projections by Claritas Inc., an Ithaca, N.Y.-based market research firm. “This is an area where 10 years ago, a Democrat had a very difficult time winning, and now they’re winning by at least a 2-to-1 margin,” said Conlon, now township supervisor.