Payton students have been active over the last two years in protest for more accountability and transparency in the Chicago Police Department. In part, because of Payton’s population residing in neighborhoods that are affected by overall crime and communities that lack trust in their local police precinct. Latino leaders from the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Public Schools, and State Representatives have targeted the Little Village community, whose population is primarily comprised of student between the ages of 12-22 and who attend a Chicago Public School, in hope that students can eventually be a part of the force and contribute to a change of culture.
As first reported by Payton News Network last month, the Latin American Police Association (LAPA) held a recruitment drive to help applicants for the police department. With just one week until the January 31 deadline for applicants, LAPA decided to hold another, in an effort to increase the number of Latino applicants. In attendance for today’s drive included State Representative Lisa Hernandez, newly appointed vice-president to the CPS BOE Jaime Guzman, Little Village Community Council members, and interim superintendent John Escalante. Escalante took this opportunity to support and thank organizers who have recruited over 120 Latino applications from these two events alone.
Before addressing the media, Superintendent Escalante spoke to a group of applicants encouraging them to apply in saying it is extremely important to have a department that is diverse and that he is “very grateful that all of you [applicants] are taking the time to apply and I wish you all the best of luck.”
When asked about record number of applicants for the upcoming police exam, Escalante said it is a “tribute to the citizens of Chicago and community groups who have made the effort to help us with the recruitment and we are very pleased and excited about the diversity of the applicants.
However, the success of receiving a diverse pool was uncertain at one point: “yeah, there was a concern when the application processes began, but to be honest, I think we are all pleased with the number of applicants and very please of the number of applicants that reflect the city.”
State Representative Lisa Hernandez, whose district encompasses Little Village, came out to support today’s event because she feels that “it’s extremely important, I think, the more diversity you have in a department the better it would be to service your constituents. So there would be more of an understanding, whether it is culturally or [with the] language. This would only be for the betterment for the community, for there would be a better understanding how to respond. And when you have that type of a force that has understanding, it really is the betterment of all of the community.”
When asked if the answer is diversify the police force, she says, “[well] it is really telling you, that there are efforts being made to help create compromise and this [diversity] could be the gap we are missing. If you don’t have a diversified understanding as how people live differently, how they go about living their life differently, and once you have that understanding it really comes together.
While the question of if a more diverse police force can intern better the relations between CPD and communities, Lisa Hernandez says she can relate: I could relate to that because I am a legislator who was raised in the Little Village area, and so when I am representing and speaking on behalf of this community I really have, a vary internal understanding that I can bring to the table. Something that other members may not, but are appreciative that you [she] can bring certain issues to light. When growing up within those issues you can relate and have an understanding towards others and can come to a resolve of a solution…
Note: Mayor Emanuel was one of the expected guest.