Since the mayor has avoided defending the Chicago Police Department (CPD), I will.
I became a law enforcement officer in Chicago, the city where I grew up and attended local public schools, because I wanted to serve and protect my community.
Like myself, many police officers grew up here in the city that we serve and protect.
Most officers are also actively involved in local community events, from coaching baseball, hockey, soccer and basketball teams to leading troops of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Adventure Guides.
Whenever elementary or high schools need volunteers to set up for school plays, dances and carnivals, the school administrators know they can count on police officers to show up and pitch in because we love this city, we love our neighborhoods and we love our schools.
In order to help strengthen and develop these community ties, the CPD created a community-policing office for each of Chicago’s 22 police districts. Each office helps to organize community involvement with the department, including programs for youths, adults and seniors.
For example, we offer the CPD Youth Explorer Program, which gives youths the opportunity to experience new things, such as rock climbing, and participate in a wide variety of events, including trips to White Sox games, Brookfield Zoo, Medieval Times shows, parades and carnivals.
The CPD doesn’t simply provide money when supporting neighborhood events, nor does it limit officer participation to law-enforcement activities. Officers not only run and coach basketball and softball leagues, but they also pitch in to perform all the necessary functions—organizing, encouraging, leading and chaperoning.
These programs are a vital way that officers develop and maintain strong, personal connections with people in their communities.
We are here to serve and protect because the residents of this city have always been our ultimate responsibility.
I count my fellow officers as part of the community that is deserving of protection, too, and the mayor has thus far shown little concern for the officers who are also vital members of our community.