The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) is a new community-oriented philosophy of policing and crime prevention. Under CAPS, the police, other government agencies and the community are working together to identify and solve problems of crime and disorder and to improve the quality of life in Chicago’s neighborhoods. CAPS officially rolled out April 29, 1993, on a prototype basis, in five of Chicago’s 25 police districts: Englewood (7th), Marquette (10th), Austin (15th), Morgan Park (22nd) and Rogers Park (24th). These five districts have diverse populations—racially, ethnically and socioeconomically—and vastly different crime problems. Taken together, the five CAPS prototype districts provide a unique laboratory for evaluating and improving the CAPS model before it is expanded Citywide
This is a community-based program that brings police, local government agencies, and the community together to prioritize problems and prevention efforts in Chicago, Ill. The goal is to solve neighborhood crime problems, rather than react to only to their symptomatic consequences. The program is rated Promising. Police beats or geographical units that implemented the program experienced a statistically significant reduction in crime and calls to 911, compared with police beats that did not.
The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) is a community-based program established to transform policing efforts into an efficient five-step process for law enforcement. The goal of CAPS is to solve neighborhood crime problems, rather than merely to react to their symptomatic consequences.
The program was developed by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in 1993. The program began in five policing districts but expanded to encompass the entire city of Chicago after a testing phase. Program development included the collaborative efforts of each district’s commanders, senior department executives, and civilian planners.
Program activities consist of law enforcement’s concentrating more intensively on the community and on prevention, while rotating with other teams that handle lower-priority and rapid response calls.
A five-step process was created for CPD to implement CAPS. The process consists of
1) identifying and prioritizing problems,
2) analyzing problems,
3) strategizing designs to deal with problems,
4) implementing a plan, and
5) evaluating effectiveness. Meetings with law enforcement and community advisory committees happen on a monthly basis; extensive trainings with both groups occur regularly. Efficient use of city services and new technology also are components to help target crime in each area. For example, the Mayor’s Liquor License Commission, the Department of Streets and Sanitation, and the Department of Buildings collaborate to manage small crime before they become larger issues (CPD 1998).
Community commitment and involvement are another main component of CAPS. Civic education, media ads, billboards, brochures, festival booths, and rallies are being used to promote awareness of CAPS throughout Chicago neighborhoods.
SOURCE: Chicago Police Department
Research and Development Division
1121 South State Street, Room 401
Chicago, IL 60605