Little Village is Chicago’s largest Hispanic community as well as one of the largest in the country. This southwest side community is densely populated with over 200,00 residents residing in a ten block by three mile span. From 23nd & Pulaski to 33 & Pulaski, and from Cicero to Western lies this Mexican hub of cultural pride. In this three mile strip from Cicero to Western, you will find the neighborhood’s infamous 26th street. For Chicagoans, it is a place where you can find anything and everything, from traditional Mexican garments and food, to dollar stores filled with the unimaginable. Despite often being headlined for its gang activity, Little Village is one of Chicago’s economic strongholds. The neighborhood’s 26th street stores are second, behind Michigan Ave’s, when it comes to taxes from retailers. This overlooked fact is why this southwest side community deserves more investment into its community’s infrastructure, schooling, and youth. Officer Edmundo Aillon said, “anytime we can have a relationship with the community…that’s when ideas are developing and perspectives are formulating.” He goes on to characterize “the only way you can compete with various messaging is to engage in any way that gives an opportunity to be alongside with those we work with [community] and without them, we can’t serve and protect.”
The youth makes up approximately 34% of Little Village’s population. With over 68,000 young adults in the community eligible to apply for the Chicago Police Department, the Little Village Community Council (LVCC) has partnered with the Latin-American Police Association (LAPA), along with other non-for profits, to have a CPD recruitment drive. A drive intended to not only improve Chicago Police relations within the community, but allow the department to properly reflect the community it serves. According to LVCC Vice-president Baltazar Enriquez ,”we are deeply committed to realizing the untapped potential of the City of Chicago’s great diversity, including the diversification of our police force…we hope to enroll more Spanish speaking applicants.”
For the Latino community falls behind both Whites and African Americans in overall officers apart of the department and officers holding rank within the department (lieutenant, captain, and sergeant). UIC student Rafael Vargas-Ochoa walked from his house to come register, for he says he has “…an aspiration to become a Chicago Police officer and it [becoming an officer] will be an achievement for myself and we need more of a Latino presence in city departments” He goes on to explain that when “the department can identify and communicate with the diverse communities in Chicago which will then create a better line of communication. By ensuring more Latino applicants, the Chicago Police Department is hoping that the community’s youth and those eligible to take the test will be inspired to combat the above average crime statistics plaguing Little Village.