Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability Issues Community Conversations Report

Posted on March 22nd, 2017

GAPA coordinator Mecole Jordan speaks about the importance of gathering meaningful community input from Chicago’s most vulnerable populations as the City moves forward with plans for a community oversight board for the Chicago Police Department.

The Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) held a March 22 press conference at City Hall  releasing its Community Conversations Report after listening to the concerns of approximately 1,700 Chicago residents about police misconduct and community relations voiced in meetings held across the city.

GAPA is a broad-based coalition of community organizations committed to making neighborhoods safer, improving police practices and accountability, and transforming the relationship between the Chicago Police Department and the City’s various communities. The organizations of GAPA touch more than 30 wards—including many neighborhoods directly impacted by violence and police brutality.  BPI provides staff support to the Alliance.

GAPA came together in the summer of 2016, in direct response to the Police Accountability Task Force’s recommendation that a Community Safety Oversight Board be created through a process with deep and meaningful community engagement.   The task force report stated, “If the community board is to earn the legitimacy it requires and deserves, its precise powers and makeup should not be set by the task force, but should be developed with broad public input.” GAPA is committed to engaging, education and empowering the communities its members serve, so community members can guide recommendations for a community oversight board.

Those attending the citywide community conversations generated nearly 300 different suggestions on how to  improve police accountability and community-police relations. GAPA’s report highlights key themes that emerged in the 19 meetings that GAPA groups held in neighborhoods across the City:

  • We need to fundamentally rethink the role of the police officer and restructure the way in which police officers interact with residents.
  • Current police practices have created deep mistrust and fear. Especially in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, too many police officers engage with residents in ways that are degrading, dehumanizing and probably illegal.  As a result, many law-abiding residents don’t just mistrust the police, but fear them.
  • We need to abandon overly aggressive police tactics. They don’t just harm its direct victims, they also make it harder for police to address real problems and solve crime. Police officers who are disrespectful, biased and violent poison the communities in which they work and make it impossible to build trust and working relationships.

Read the full GAPA report

The GAPA member organizations are:

Action Now Institute
Communities United
Community Renewal Society
Enlace Chicago
Inner-city Muslim Action Network
ONE Northside
Southwest Organizing Project
Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation
Target Area Development Corporation
United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations

Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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