Regaining the public’s trust and boosting the morale of Chicago police officers are the main issues the new first deputy superintendent of the department wants to tackle.
How does he plan to do it? “Going back to the drawing board,” James Jackson, the newlyminted first deputy, told the Defender.Jackson started his post Feb. 15. Superintendent Jody Weis chose Jackson from a list of at least 10 qualified candidates to handle the day-to-day operations of the department.
Jackson has “the drawing board” already mapped out. The community needs to know that they can trust their neighborhood police officer, and the officers need to know that they can count on the community to help combat crime. Sharing ideas is the only way the relationship will work, the 23- year veteran said.
“We do care and our sincere mission is to improve the quality of life for our citizens. But to do that, we need the help from the citizens,” Jackson said. One way to achieve that goal is to look to the “anchor” in every community ûû the church. The thread to mend the gap between the neighborhood and its officers lies with the church.
Each district must reach out to the faithbased community because oftentimes the community places its trust in the church before any other organization, Jackson said. “We need to get that dialogue started again. We need to hear what is working and what’s not working. We need to hear what we could do better. They also need to know what we need from them.
We need their cooperation if we are going to improve the quality of life for them,” the former Harrison District commander said. Block clubs will also play a significant part in restoring the relationship the police has with the community, and improving the image of the police officer. The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies department would have an increased presence at block club meetings and functions in their respective districts.
“The residents need to see that all of the officers, not just in CAPS, are out there to help them, not hurt them,” he said. Another issue that is critical to Jackson is boosting the morale of sworn officers. The avenue to raising the morale to a healthy level is having constructive dialogue between police brass and patrol officers.
Officers knowing they are supported, in and out of the field, is the first step, he said. Also, Jackson’s promotion from district commander to first deputy superintendent could be seen as a steppingstone toward getting department morale inching up the ladder. “It lets the average officer know that there is room for growth within the department if you just work hard.
We want the officers to be empowered,” Jackson said. Hard work is exactly what got him his spot on the 5th floor at police headquarters on 35th and Michigan Avenue.
Before starting his new position, Jackson spent time as the Wentworth Area detective commander, supervising sergeant of the narcotics and gang investigations section, overseeing three Chicago Housing Authority units and nearly five years as commander of the West Side’s Harrison District. He knows he has a tough road ahead in his quest to help minimize ûûand eventually removeûûthe stigma from the department, but Jackson is committed.
The department has been longplagued with allegations of police misconduct and police brutality, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the residents the officers are sworn to serve and protect. “There are some members of the department that have put us in a position to be embarrassed, but 99 percent of police officers do a good job,” he said. The 1 percent that does not abide by the rules will be dealt with, Jackson said.
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