Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent Garry McCarthy today joined the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE) to announce a new summer school effort, being piloted at two CPS elementary schools, to build trust and improve relationships between police officers and youth. The effort, a recommendation of the Mayor’s Commission for a Safer Chicago, was announced at the Commission’s quarterly meeting where more than 130 community and faith leaders, practitioners, subject matter experts, residents, police and city staff, gathered to discuss community-driven violence prevention solutions.
"We all share the same goal of ensuring every community in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety, and we are best positioned to achieve that goal when everyone works together from a foundation of trust," said Mayor Emanuel. "This teaching tool is a great example of how law enforcement is partnering with other organizations and residents to help build that foundation from an early age."
Beginning in July, students at Sherwood and Spencer Elementary Schools will participate in a customized law literacy and “Know Your Rights” curriculum, developed by NOBLE and taught by volunteer instructors from the Police Department. During the program, students will participate in role-playing and interactive lessons about their constitutional rights, bullying, and cyber-bullying. The program also includes a mentorship component, where students work with adults – many of whom are police officers – to talk about peer pressure and learn and practice positive decision-making skills.
"By bringing officers into conversations with young people to teach them about their rights and engage in role playing and other interactive activities, we are giving both groups --the youth and the officers-- an important opportunity to build relationships and empathy," said Carla Kupe-Arion, director of community relations for the Chicago chapter of NOBLE. "We are thrilled to be bringing this program into CPS, as we all work together to give more officers and more youth the chance to learn from each other and come to see each other as human beings first."
NOBLE’s law literacy and “Know Your Rights” curriculum presents a unique combination of law skills, know your rights education, and lessons and role playing activities that are specifically designed to help build trust and improve relationships between officers and youth. NOBLE trains facilitators, many of whom are sworn police officers, to work with students, community groups, and the general public in delivering customized know your rights and law literacy lessons. Both youth and officers who have participated in the program report that it has helped them achieve greater empathy in their interactions.
The Mayor's Commission for a Safer Chicago is comprised of leaders from City government, faith groups and community organizations gathered to discuss joint efforts to combat violence and strengthen communities. The Commission is focused on five issue areas, each designed to address the risk factors and root causes of youth violence - youth employment, health and healing, crating restorative school communities, safety and justice, and safe spaces and activities.
"Our officers are unquestionably the backbone of public safety, but reducing crime and violence requires a community-driven effort and real partnerships with residents in neighborhoods throughout our city," said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. "The Commission's work represents the important work we are doing together to continue achieving the public safety goals we all have for our city."
In December the Commission presented the Mayor with their first report, in which they offered strategies designed to identify and intervene with youth at risk for becoming involved in violence. The full report is available at www.cityofchicago.org/saferchicago
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