Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot joined fellow City, nonprofit, and community leaders to announce the first-of-its-kind Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC). The CSCC is a multi-agency coordination center that will utilize the lessons learned from the City’s coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic demonstrated how much can be accomplished when government and community members work together to solve our most challenging collective issues. Throughout the pandemic, staff from healthcare organizations, public safety agencies, infrastructure departments, faith leaders, elected officials, and community organizations worked together to ensure our residents had access to the information, supplies, resources, and eventually, the vaccine needed to protect themselves. Through the CSCC, the City will utilize this same approach to enhance Mayor’s Lightfoot’s whole of government, community-driven approach to violence prevention and reduction.
“If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that in order to solve some of our greatest problems as a city, we have to work collaboratively, both across city departments and our many valued community partners and nonprofits,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “The CSCC is the City’s next step in our whole of government, all hands-on deck approach to reducing and preventing violence in our communities and enhancing the safety of all our residents and visitors. Focusing first on the areas facing the greatest challenges, the CSCC will be an incredible new resource in Chicago’s fight against violence and will create the opportunities for enhanced coordination and cooperation that have been instrumental in keeping Chicagoans safe and healthy through the pandemic.”
The Community Safety Coordination Center will be tasked with coordinating resources, staff, funding, and information to engage residents and organizations in ways that are inclusive of the whole community. The center itself will be staffed with representatives from healthcare and mental health organizations, violence reduction nonprofits, youth services organizations, victim services organizations, education organizations, faith communities, local businesses, elected officials, and City departments.
“Throughout the pandemic response and vaccine roll-out, we have worked very closely with our valued community partners, knowing that it is through them we would have the greatest impact,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “The CSCC will do the same, strengthening community connections as part of this vital violence prevention work.”
The CSCC will also provide data sources and analysis on violent crime and the root causes of violence. In addition, the center will provide data on food insecurity, power and internet connectivity, affordable housing, and healthcare access. These efforts will ensure the City takes a more holistic and community-driven approach when using this data to prevent violence.
“Violence prevention cannot happen in a vacuum,” said Norman Kerr, Assistant Deputy Mayor of Public Safety. “The Community Safety Coordination Center will create a first-of-its-kind opportunity for community, City, nonprofit, and faith leaders to work collaboratively on reducing and preventing violence in their communities, and will be a massive value-add in Mayor Lightfoot’s all-hands-on-deck approach to reducing violence in Chicago.”
The CSCC will work closely with community leaders to identify what capabilities already exist to prevent and reduce violence and where the City can assist in garnering the resources needed to create short-term and long-term impacts against violence. The center will also coordinate City services and personnel to rapidly respond to the needs identified by community members to effectively prevent and reduce violence.
“Violence is the number one issue not only in Englewood but across Chicago,” said Cecile De Mello, Executive Director of Teamwork Englewood. “The new Community Safety Coordination Center will bring much-needed resources to Englewood and be an enormous benefit to the many organizations who work to reduce violence in their communities throughout the city.”
“To truly reduce violence, you need everyone to be bought in and on board,” said Frank Perez, Director of Violence Intervention and Prevention at UCAN. “No organization, government, or community group can make a serious dent by themselves, and so I commend Mayor Lightfoot on standing up an operations center like the CSCC that can serve as a command-post for coordinating resources, staff, and funding among the many stakeholders and organizations who do this work.”
While the City continues to fund and support violence interventions in the 15 priority communities identified in Mayor Lightfoot’s “Our City, Our Safety” plan, the CSCC’s primary focus will be on activating extensive resources within these communities on a phased basis, focusing first on West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Little Village, and Englewood. The CSCC will begin operations in a temporary location downtown before moving to its permanent home in one of Chicago’s communities.
“Reducing violence cannot be accomplished without direct input from those who are most impacted by it,” said Rodney Brown, Executive Director of North Lawndale Coordinating Council. “A violence prevention plan that is made at the highest levels and pushed downward will never work, which is why I commend the Mayor and her team for creating this center to serve as a force for the community to direct and appropriate the resources and staff that they need.”
“Centralized coordination of resources is a crucial step in getting our most at-risk residents meaningful employment opportunities that can steer them away from a life of violence., said Keith Richardson, President of the Chicago Postal Workers Union. “I want to commend Mayor Lightfoot for standing up the Community Safety Coordination Center to act as a base of operations toward ensuring our work to empower Chicagoans is collaborative and community-driven.”
A launch committee of community leaders is currently being formed and will mirror the incredible work done by the Racial Equity Response Team created during the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This launch committee will identify lessons learned through their work in the violence reduction space within their respective communities and work together to guide the City’s efforts toward violence prevention and reduction.
In addition to the $52 million that Mayor Lightfoot is currently using to support violence prevention and reduction programs, the City will also work with the City Council to identify new funding streams. The funds from the American Rescue Plan will also help increase departmental budgets for violence prevention and response and provide much-needed funding for community organizations. The City will continue to coordinate with philanthropic funders to maximize the impact of dollars spent on violence prevention and reduction in the City.