Officials unite

By Gregory Cappis

To ensure students focus more on their schoolwork and less on safety, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department are using a new technique to help put schoolchildren’s minds at ease.

The departments are collaborating with the use of the strategic control computer program, CompStat, to help deter crime in and around schools. The program is already being used by the CPD and will now be used to target crime trends at schools.

“At the police department, we’ve been putting resources into the hands of district commanders and holding them accountable,” said Garry McCarthy, CPD superintendent.

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and McCarthy introduced the new crime-fighting plan during a press conference on Nov. 30 at John Marshall Metropolitan High School, 3250 W. Adams St.

McCarthy said CompStat is used as part of a process to thwart crime. The first step is to analyze the data to show trends of when, where and what types of crimes are occurring. Then officials must create plans to address the problems represented by the data, such as making sure the correct personnel are at the right place at the right time.

McCarthy and Emanuel both stressed that CompStat is not just about collecting data. They said the technology also reacts to the trends and deals with the problems that CompStat makes apparent.

“It is about doing the right things at the right times in the right places with the right people, [because] we don’t want to just throw a blanket over it,” McCarthy said.

Now school officials, police officers inside schools and district commanders will be forced to meet and decide what can be done to better prevent crime. CompStat will then be able to show the officials what is and isn’t working.

“CompStat is going to be used now to evaluate those plans and ensure that there is integration of the schools’ plans and the police department’s plans as one plan to ensure the safety of the kids,” McCarthy added.

Emanuel said he met with religious leaders and invited them and the city’s 50 aldermen to the CompStat meetings, which will begin in mid-December, to have even more collaboration between departments.

The goal is to reduce crimes to allow students to focus on their studies, Emanuel said. Marshall High School is one example of how lowering crime can help students succeed in the classroom.

“We have seen a huge decrease in the number of misconducts and a 20-percent increase in attendance [because of] students feeling safe,” said Kenyatta Stansberry, Marshall’s principal.

Brizard said he personally understands how witnessing a violent crime can have residual effects on students and faculty. While teaching in New York 20 years ago, Brizard saw a student get shot in the back. He said it has haunted him ever since.

Emanuel said he doesn’t want students to see or worry about violent crimes like the one Brizard witnessed.

“The goal is that you are able to think of your studies on the way to school, not your safety,” Emanuel said.