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Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined the members of the Mayor's Commission for a Safer Chicago at their quarterly meeting to discuss initiatives that will be rolled out this spring and summer as a result of the commission's recommendations. Created as permanent way of engaging the community on public safety issues following a series of roundtable forums held last summer, the Commission brings together over 130 community and faith leaders, practitioners, subject matter experts, residents, police and city staff, to develop community-driven violence prevention solutions.
“Chicago's future will only be as bright as our neighborhoods are strong. We created this commission to draw on the different perspectives in our communities and reduce violence all throughout our city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Today, we are taking another step forward and acting on the recommendations provided by community leaders, ministers and residents throughout the city as we work together to improve the safety of our city.”
The Commission’s recommendations inspired additional support from private donors and the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission. As a result, the City and community-based organizations are expanding their violence prevention programming.
Chicago Public Schools has partnered with COFI/POWER-PAC to open four new Parent Peace Centers, at which trained community members will use restorative techniques like peace circles, restorative conversations, and future planning to address student conflict and misconduct. The Peace Centers complement changes to the CPS student code of conduct and discipline policies to encourage the use of restorative practices instead of exclusionary discipline. Three more Parent Peace Centers will be opened later this year.
A $50,000 Youth Peace Grant program is currently underway, through which youth will be able to apply for grants to fund their own anti-violence initiatives. Young people, in conjunction with a sponsoring adult, can apply for funding for a youth-designed project designed to address violence or promote peace in their community. The application is available at www.mikvachallenge.org/?p=2651
Three dates for Faith In Action events across Chicago have also been scheduled for 2015 – May 22, June 19 and August 4 – when residents and leaders across Chicago gather for peace, and urge young people to put the guns down. Last year, more than 200 community groups hosted events on the Friday evening of Memorial Day Weekend.
"Preventing violence and improving the safety of our neighborhoods is everyone’s responsibility," said Andrea Zopp, President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. "I am honored that Mayor Emanuel asked me to serve on this commission, and thank him for convening this group as we work together with us to implement real public safety solutions."
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