In an effort to help the Chicago Police Department and its new leader, Superintendent Eddie Johnson, reduce violence in some of the South Side's most crime ridden areas, the Gathering Point Community Council wants to join forces with police and extend its services throughout the area. Gathering Point is looking to assist the Department with training block clubs, community patrols and concerned citizens groups and partner with the public to reclaim their streets and restore stability to some struggling areas.
”We need to focus on those that are creating crime in our neighborhood,” said Superintendent Johnson. “The police department wants to be partners with community instead of an occupying force”
The community meeting took place Friday, June 10, 2016 at Gospel Truth Missionary Baptist Church, About 75 members of the community, local leaders and elected officials turned out to hear Superintendent Johnson’s plan to enhance community participation.
During the meeting, Superintendent Johnson talked about how he personally has gone throughout the city in the past two months, reassuring the community about how the department is implementing better policies and asking the community to be engaged in keeping an eye out for negative behavior.
The Superintendent stated that as criminals are getting younger and younger, we need to collectively do a better job at parenting. Another issue he mentioned is how lax the legal system is, often allowing violent criminals back on the streets after only serving one-third of their sentence.
“We are honored and grateful that Superintendent Johnson was able to come out and talk with the community,” said Richard Wooten, retired police officer and founder of Gathering Point. “While meeting with key stakeholders, the Superintendent made his vision to reduce violence in the South Side communities clear and explained how the public at large must assist in this effort.”
Superintendent Johnson went on to discuss how he is working to make the Department more accountable to the community. He detailed how he called Laquan McDonald’s mother to see the video of her son’s shooting before it was accessible to the public, in an effort to show “his commitment to being transparent.”
The goal of this community meeting was to see how the community can work together with the police department via block clubs, area organizations and other groups to assist the Chicago Police Department.
Richard Wooten has been a long-time proponent of Superintendent Johnson, rallying behind his appointment to superintendent and supporting him during the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation.
“It is critical that the community let the police know when they see suspicious activity or know of a crime being committed by their neighbors,” said Superintendent Johnson. “In addition, we want to be told when a police officer acts in a less than professional way, but we also want to know about those who are doing the right thing.”
The meeting included a short presentation introducing Gathering Point and Richard Wooten. Following this, Superintendent Johnson, presented the Chicago Police Department’s plan to strategically step up their presence in criminal areas in the South Side of Chicago.
Attendees were offered the chance to ask questions and a group dialogue emerged among retired and active police officers, community leaders, and politicians. Each offered a variety of viewpoints that were both insightful and helpful.
“Those in attendance have told me the meeting was great,” said Mr. Wooten. “People were happy to meet with Superintendent Johnson and inspired to see first-hand his passion for reducing violence in our communities.”
Richard Wooten hopes that Friday’s meeting will be one of many that will foster greater communication and partnership between the Chicago Police Department and members of the South Side communities including: Park Manor, Chesterfield, West Chesterfield, Gresham, Auburn Gresham, and Greater Grand Crossing.