Community joins UCPD Officers for police training

Staff Writer

University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) officers completed Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) training last week.

The department conducted the training alongside members of the community.

The stated purpose of the training is to promote community and police partnerships with the aim of reducing crime.

“It’s designed for the police officers and our community stakeholders because we all share in [the] public safety mission,” said University Police Chief Kenton Rainey. “If we ‘re able to connect with the people who live, work, and go to school in this greater Hyde Park area they become our force multiplier then it’s more of us than people who are up to no good.”

Rainey was named as Police Chief in June replacing Fountain Walker, the former police chief who served in the role since August 2015. Walker is now the assistant vice president at New York University (NYU).

Five training sessions were held at locations on the university’s campus and in the neighborhood.

COPPS training began on Thursday, Nov. 2, at the Hyatt Place Chicago – South, 5225 S. Harper Ave.

The training was facilitated by, Retired Deputy Chief, Janieth Glenn-Davis, California State University and Acting Lieutenant, Tanzanika Carter, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District East Bay.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) defines community policing as “philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues (such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime).”

“Most progressive police departments are already engaged in utilizing some form of COPPS, or they’re moving toward it,” said Glenn-Davis following the training. “To be successful in today’s environment, you have to. I don’t think any community has the resources to have cops standing on every corner. We can’t do it by ourselves there just aren’t enough police officers out there.”

Glenn-Davis and Carter during the training highlighted eras in policing, study experiments in policing and gave background information on COPPS.

“It takes a village, Carter said. “We need everybody to make this work to keep everyone safe. It takes all of us together that’s how we maintain strength.”

The pair explained that COPPS is a philosophy, framework, partnership or department-wide strategy that promotes community, government, police partnerships and proactive problem solving to reduce crime and disorder in the bounds serviced by police officers.

The twelve principles of COPPS were introduced during the training. For example, one of the tenets of COPPS requires “shared ownership, decision making, and accountability, as well as sustained commitment from the police and the community” another principle “requires ongoing commitment to develop proactive, long-term programs/strategies to address the underlying conditions that cause community problems.”

After laying the foundation for COPPS officers and community members together created action plans for real-life scenarios using information from COPPS as well as problem-solving strategies within the COPPS framework.

Participants used a problem-solving approach to address the scenarios relative to the community in training. Groups used the problem-solving process referred to as SARA (scan, analyze, respond, access) and then presented their plans to the team as a whole.

One scenario asked groups to use the SARA model to address an increase in the already high number of cell phone thefts.

Nearly five months into his role, Rainey expressed previously in the Herald his desire to improve the relationship between the community and the police. Implementing the side-by-side training for officers and the community is one of the ways he is addressing that desire.

“We want and need the community to work with us, and we have to be transparent”, Rainey said. “We need their assistance if we’re going to be successful.”

UCPD is using COPPS to assist in the way that they operate.

“We are and have started to move toward a geographical team policing structure in order to better facilitate the COPPS philosophy in our community engagement strategy,” Rainey said.

The UCPD consists of 100 officers whose patrol area boundaries are on and around the U. of C. campus as well as extended patrols as far north as 37th Street, 65th Street – South, Lake Shore Drive – East, and Cottage Grove Avenue -West.