The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has investigated many high-profile crimes recently.
On March 23, off-duty CPD Officer John Rivera, a Br. Rice High School graduate, was shot and killed while sitting in a vehicle in the River North neighborhood. Two men were arrested and charged with first-degree murder two days later.
Television actor Jussie Smollett was charged earlier this year with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for conducting a hoax in which he reported to police that he was attacked while walking through Chicago during late-night hours because he is black and gay.
On March 26, officials with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office dropped the charges against Smollett—drawing outrage from residents and CPD personnel; however, critics said police paid more attention to those cases than they did to other unsolved crimes.
Those criticisms might have merit, but while discussing the arrests in the murder of Rivera on March 25, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson was adamant that police officers did their job.
“These detectives and these officers put the same amount of effort into this investigation that they put into every one,” Johnson said. “If you give us video and community members who are willing to share information with us, we’ll solve all this stuff. So, those are the differences between solving a crime and not being able to solve one.”
Police said video helped lead to arrests in Rivera’s death, including footage of the shooting. Businesses can aid police investigations by providing recordings from surveillance systems, and authorities encourage the installation of such systems.
Residents often fear coming forward with information because they fear retaliation, but tips can be provided anonymously.
On March 14, the CPD hosted a community conversation at Ridge Park, where about 50 attendees shared their thoughts on improving the 22nd District’s relationship with residents.
One asked, “What can we do to help the police?”
She said residents don’t call authorities “when they’re having problems” in their neighborhood. Residents also need to be held accountable for lowering crime.
The 22nd District was one of the first five CPD districts to implement the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) in April 1993. The program hosts monthly beat meetings where residents can get to know CPD officers.
These meetings provide proof that fighting crime takes a community effort.