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In the Media | 11.05.21

Dr. Elena Quintana Joins “Let It Be Known,” Speaking on Public Safety and Police Intervention in Chicago

Dr. Elena Quintana, Executive Director of Adler University’s Institute on Public Safety & Social Justice, joined Black Press of America’s “Let It Be Known” last week to speak on her role on the Independent Monitoring Team for Chicago Police Department’s Consent Decree.

The Consent Decree is court-approved settlement that requires the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the City of Chicago to reform police training, use of force, community policing, accountability and more. Through oversight by a federal judge, The Independent Monitoring Team is responsible to assessing the CPD’s compliance with the Consent Decree. This decree was enacted due to a pattern of civil rights abuses by the CPD.

Stacy Brown, National Correspondent for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) was joined by Elena Quintana and Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, NNPA President and CEO. Dr. Quintana spoke on the importance of Chicago’s Consent Decree and the need for diversifying how the City of Chicago goes about policing. Often times, large cities will rely on police departments as the only available form of intervention.

“If we diversify the kinds of help and support we have, then we don’t need to depend solely on police, because when all you have is a hammer, everybody becomes a nail. We end up investing in an intervention that unnecessarily criminalizes lots of people, instead of investing in human potential,” says Dr. Quintana.

Quintana goes on to address alternatives to traditional policing, suggesting investments in quality education, after school activities, public art initiatives and mental health services.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis prompts Dr. Quintana with the question, “Are the police officers required to live in the communities in which they serve?” In Chicago, police officers are required to live within the City of Chicago, yet not in the individual communities or neighborhoods they work. Additionally, officers are often stationed in neighborhoods for short periods of time, making it harder for them to know their residents well. Dr. Quintana suggests that if there were more stability in these arrangements, it would give officers the opportunity to build positive relationships with those affected negatively by the justice system. She goes on to mention civilians are hopeful of good relationships with the police, stating they want the police to know who they are and to care about them as people. Quintana says, “That seems like a very reasonable request.”

Through this Consent Decree and its federal oversight, Chicago has the opportunity to change its structure around policing. This starts in the diversity of community investment and shifting the reliance on police officers. Dr. Quintana states, “We need to really think about how we diversify investments in communities, in order to create public safety beyond policing – but also make sure there is that civilian oversight of police departments so that there is a collaboration, and the community feels like the police are a part of them.”

Going forward, Dr. Quintana sees many other large cities evaluating their investments in communities, particularly how they address public safety through policing.

As Executive Director of Adler University’s Institute on Public Safety & Social Justice (IPSSJ), Dr. Quintana creates programming, research and events that promote socially just solutions to public safety. Rather than relying on safety strategies that isolate and confine, the IPSSJ strives to develop transformative alternatives that restore people, families and neighborhoods.

Watch Dr. Quintana’s full interview on “Let It Be Known” here.

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