Strengthening the relationship between the community and the police is the goal of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, and the upcoming election of District Councils for each Chicago police district is designed ensure that every community has a strong voice in Chicago policing through the work of the Commission.
District Councils will be created in each of the City’s 22 police districts, each council will be composed of three people elected in regular municipal elections every four years. The first District Council elections will be on Feb. 28. Five candidates for the 22nd District Council will be on the ballot.
Three of the candidates running for to represent the 22nd District responded to BAPA’s invitation to meet the community and present their platforms at an open meeting in December at the BAPA office. Lee Bielecki, Matt Bianciotto, and Carisa Parker each presented information about their qualifications as candidates for the new positions of District Council members, and answered questions from the audience. Candidates Patrick Kennedy and Andre Pate were unable to attend the meeting.
Yvette C. Loizon, a neighborhood resident and interim member of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, provided information about the duties of the District Councils and work of the Commission, also provided information and answered audience questions.
Loizon emphasized it’s important that Chicagoans know about the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability and District Councils because they will wield a lot of authority to advocate for and create real change in crime and with police oversight. The Commission ranks above the Citizens Office of Police (COPA), which handles high level Chicago Police Department misconduct issues, and the Chicago Police Board, an independent civilian body that decides disciplinary cases involving Chicago police officers.
The new District Councils will nominate people to serve on the permanent Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, and they will provide “boots on the ground” assistance to the Commission by representing the needs of and issues in the communities served by their police districts.
District Council Candidates
Mount Greenwood resident Lee Bielecki retired from the Chicago Police Department after 27 years of service and currently serves as a member of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. He believes his experience can benefit the work of the District Council with a focus on bringing together the needs of both the community and the police. Bielecki said he has heard people say, “We have to let the police be the police,” explaining that, to him, that means serving the public. He is concerned about the current shortage of Chicago Police officers and police not being able to have their earned days off, as well as about building positive relationships between the police and the community, especially with youth.
Matt Biancotto was raised in Beverly/Morgan Park in the 2213 police beat and now lives in the 2211 police beat in Mount Greenwood. He works for the City of Chicago at O’Hare Airport and decided to run for a place on the new District Council because he sees it as an opportunity to address his concerns about issues in policing, and to be a part of putting decision-making back into the hands of Chicago residents.
Carisa Parker grew up in Beverly/Morgan Park and now lives in Washington Heights, part of the 2223 police beat, which also includes Brainerd and Roseland. The mother of four children – one of whom is a Chicago Police officer – Parker is a health care administrator and patient advocate at Trinity Hospital. She has a long record of community service, and has served several terms on the Local School Council at Morgan Park High School (she’s an MPHS graduate). Parker lives by the philosophy, “We are in this world to make it better.” She has created and served on community groups that advocate for women, students, and police. She is eager to expand her role as an advocate for the 22nd District people and police.
“It is important to know the people who are running for these positions so we can be prepared and informed voters in February,” said BAPA Executive Director. May Jo Viero. “We want true community representation in this important new collaboration with our police.” BAPA is planning to host another informational meeting before the election.
Key Roles of District Councils
Building stronger connections between the police and the community at the district level, where the community is a true partner in making the neighborhood safer, working with the police to solve problems and set priorities.
Collaborating in the development and implementation of community policing initiatives.
Holding monthly public meetings, where residents can work with the police on local initiatives rooted in community concerns and priorities, and raise and work to address concerns about policing in the district.
Working with the community to get input on police department policies and practices, and to develop and expand restorative justice and similar programs.
Ensuring that the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability gets input from the community, so that the Commission’s work will be based on what people in neighborhoods across the city are concerned about.
Nominating members of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.