CAPS budget zeroed out

By LINDSAY WELBERS
Staff Writer

Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, better known as CAPS, has its allocation reduced to zero under the 2013 budget, but CAPS director Ron Holt says the program should not have any visible changes.

“It will look like what it always has looked like, in that the CAPS staff and civilians will have their designated districts to work within under the commander,” Holt said.

Under the 2013 budget the CAPS program’s budget is being reduced from $3.5 million to zero; Holt says the line item is simply being rolled into the larger Chicago Police Department budget. The budget outline states that CAPS’ “resources that are concentrated at CPD headquarters will be allocated to the police districts and communities where they belong.”

CAPS seeks to develop relationships between CPD and citizens while improving the information available to the police. Supporters say it’s a red-tape-free way to communicate complaints about criminal activity and receive updates from the police.
Holt said the program will remain the same and that regular CAPS beat meetings will still occur. But the structure of the program may be switched from downtown to district commanders running the program in their area.

“CAPS has always been on a local level. Hopefully there will be more of it — more direct outreach — within each district,” Holt said. Sergeants who work within the CAPS program report to the district commanders, Holt said, so the reorganization should do little to change the way CAPS works on a neighborhood level.

Holt did not respond by Herald press time to provide an explanation as to why all the CAPS beat meetings in the 2nd District have been cancelled in December.

The lack of information is keeping Timika Hoffman-Zoller on her toes. She is vice president second chair at the Hyde Park – Kenwood Community Conference and president of On The Safe Side Inc., which helps to promote safety in the greater Chicago area.

“I can’t see it going over too well in this community,” she said. Hoffman-Zoller said if CAPS were being replaced she would like to see it replaced with the Expanded Anti-Violence Initiative (EAVI), what she describes as “CAPS on steroids.”

EAVI was initially implemented in Englewood. It was designed to help reduce violence associated with gang activity and narcotics sales. It has since expanded to five different police districts in the city.

EVAI brings the Narcotics Section, the Gang Intelligence and Enforcement Sections, the Troubled Building Unit and the Vice Control Section together with the public to better tackle issues and concerns specific to neighborhoods.

“It’s a little more active than the CAPS program,” Hoffman-Zoller said. “I’m just impressed with EVAI, the way they organize … it gets the community more involved than just going to CAPS meetings. They become more active. I’m wondering if they would use that as a model. They’re going to have to replace it with some kind of policing strategy.”

l.welbers@hpherald.com