No more CAPS… It's Community Policing says 14th District Commander Marc Buslik


Commander Marc Buslik

No more Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies (CAPS) is the "word" from the Chicago Police Department (CPD). "The idea that the community can be safe just because of what the police do, we knew a long time ago wasn't going to work," says 14th District Commander Marc Buslik. 

Take out Alternative and Strategies then add Community and you have Community Policing. "Community Policing is a fundamental idea. It's a partnership between police and community in co-production of public safety. It includes other things like incorporating city services, organizations and outside resources. " 

While this change is a decision that is coming from the top (Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel), Buslik is in full agreement. It is a concept that began in the 1980s and he was part of its authoring. 

Mapping Crime in Its Community Setting, published in 1987, was the result of a project, of which Buslik was part, established at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The project was concerned with the use of statistics in a law enforcement context. It looked at making sense of various data, trying to find patterns hidden in that data. It addressed the basics of community policing. 

"Urban policing demands partnerships," explains Buslik. "Every police department has an obligation to be legitimate to its community. The Community has to trust that the police department is effective and efficient. The partnerships are not successful unless everyone works together. Police work with the community and the police work amongst ourselves, but everyone has to work together. Elected officials are an important part of the public safety equation as well." 

In fact, Buslik advises that everyone should be involved in politics. 


State Senator Delgado and Buslik

New CPD approach
To encourage more community partnership engagement, McCarthy has tasked Commanders with getting out in the communities to establish dialogue and explain the Department's philosophy and activities. 

Buslik, who even as Captain has been interactive with the community, is explaining what officers are doing beyond patrolling. Two of the areas are regarding Gang Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) and stepping up to meet with gang leaders whose members are being violent. 

Being proactive versus reactive, GVRS deals with gang violence. In a multi-faceted approach, the department has a database of gang members. Each person is profiled and given a score as a shooter or one who may be shot. 

"We visit them. We try to talk with their families. Generally people embrace gang life styles because they are lacking something. Sometimes it is family structure, they need a job, they need housing or they want to get out of the gang." 

The CPD has resources to help the gang member or family solve their problems. "We try to have them avoid the public justice system." 

The tougher of CPD's problem solving challenges is dealing with gangs with violent members. "If a particular gang is responsible for violence, we ask the leaders of that gang to meet with us. We bring in a U.S. attorney and Cook County attorney along with us. 

"We tell them that they have to get control of their members and if they don't, we are going to come down on the entire gang with everything we have," says Buslik. 

The community partnership
Buslik sees the Beat meetings continuing as an integral part of the community partnership. Other meetings can be added, focusing on different topics. One was held in Humboldt Park with Illinois State Senator William Delgado. 

Other events can include "Smoke Outs," National Night Out, community organization meetings, etc. 

The development of The 606 was another community based project that the 14th was actively involved with during the planning, design and implementation. Now they are tasked with patrolling it. 

While CPD works to reduce crime they also invite feedback about how the community feels about their service after an incident. "Things will not be perfect," says Buslik. "But we try." 

On the community side, individuals need to report crime when they see it. Vigilance includes The 606. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. it is like other Chicago Parks. It is not closed off. If people see any criminal activity on the trail, call 911.

Graffiti and tagging are criminal activities. When reporting seeing some one in the act of a crime, say to the operator that it is "in progress."

The Trail will be patrolled on foot, bike and all terrain vehicles. 

It will take time to totally rebrand Community Policing with logos, a slogan and materials. Each district will have their own version, meeting the needs of their communities. The way each District creates and works with the partnerships will be determined by the district.


Officer Levine and Buslik at a BCO gathering

14th District Profile
With 12 beats, geographically the 14th District is bound by Belmont on the north, Division on the south, Central Park on the west and the River on the east. 

The 14th currently has about 200 officers in three watches starting with the First Watch at midnight, Second Watch for days and Third Watch in the afternoon. Each watch has two lieutenants and 7 sergeants. 

In addition, there is tactical unit headed by a lieutenant with three or four teams each headed by a sergeant. Another special team is the Wicker Park Detail. "Not sure what we will call this in the future," says Buslik of the ever expanding entertainment district assignment. 

The top two district positions are the Commander (CEO equivalent) and a Captain (COO equivalent). 

The District has often been the starting point for new CPD initiatives. Currently they have included social media, body cameras and identifying domestic violence high risk households. "This latter one has been expanded to the 3rd District. While handling an incident, if an officer suspects domestic violence, they ask the victim questions on a list developed as a result of justice department research. This proactive intervention has been very successful. All parties are finding it very helpful," says Bulsik, who also expressed that he feels lucky that the 14th has and is being used as a test bed for intervention. 

Buslik's background
Buslik is about to be a 35-year CPD veteran in July. A Captain for 14 years until his promotion to Commander earlier this year, he has been in the 14th for the last 8 years. He will have to retire in four years because of his age. 

Elected President of the Captains Association in 2014, his career began as a civilian in the Office of Professional Standards before becoming a police officer in the 25th Grand Central District. 

His assignments included patrolman, data processing, internal affairs and then organized crime. As he described the latter, in his dry sense of humor, "I was one of those guys you did not want to see on a telephone poll in back of your house." 

His father grew up in Wicker Park on Bell. "Like many Jews, he moved to Highland Park where I grew up. In college, I planned to join the Peace Corp but my friends said, 'No, join the police department, it has a better pension plan and you can stay closer to home,''' Buslik told a gathering of the Bucktown Community Organization (BCO) one Saturday afternoon in May. Knowing the current issue of pensions in Chicago, the audience laughed. 

His Bachelor's degree was in criminal justice with a minor in computer science. ("I was always a nerd," he confesses.) With a Masters in Public Administration, he is currently completing his doctorate at UIC, working on a dissertation regarding police accountability. 

Often referred to as the professor, the fact is that he is one. He also has been a consultant for the U.S. Justice Department which included assignments out of the country on several occasions.

He has been teaching at Oakton Community College in DesPlaines for over 20 years in information systems. "Lately I've been teaching a database development class online. I'm also teaching criminology at UIC and recently started teaching in the Master of Public Administration at IIT. 

"I am in a nice place in my career. I'm very glad that the Superintendent felt that I would be a good fit here, that I'd be a good fit with his vision." 

On a personal note, Buslik, who has lived in Chicago since 1978, is married and they have a 25-year-old son who is in his last year of law school at DePaul.




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