Public Safety & Criminal Justice

Chicago is in the midst of a dual crisis of gun violence and police legitimacy. In 2016, after a decade of progress reducing gun violence, the city experienced a dramatic rise in shootings and homicides. While these rates have declined in the years since, Chicago’s level of gun violence remains unacceptable.

Our vision is a city where everyone – residents and police – is safe and justice is exercised consistently across all communities.

Specifically, we facilitate reforms to ensure:

  •  Violent crime reduction;

  • Fair application of justice; and

  • Restored trust in law enforcement.

Key Projects

  • Civilian Office of Police Accountability

  • Chicago Police Department

  • Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities

  • Cook County Pretrial Stakeholders’ Group

The Consent Decree is an important roadmap to the goal of building trust between law enforcement and communities, and COPA has made great progress towards this goal because of Civic Consulting Alliance’s critical support.
— Sydney Roberts, Chief Administrator, Civilian Office of Police Accountability

2019 Public Safety & Criminal Justice Snapshot


Chicago Police Department, Office of Community Policing

Investigations of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) by the Department of Justice and the Police Accountability Task Force highlighted the broken relationship between the Department and the Chicago communities it serves.

In the fall of 2016, the CPD Superintendent appointed a Community Policing Advisory Panel (CPAP) with community members, CPD staff, and subject matter experts to provide recommendations for revamping CPD’s community policing efforts and improve police-community relations. Simultaneously, CPD established an Office of Community Policing (OCP) to ensure that the Department maintains focus on community policing and that CPAP’s recommendations are implemented thoughtfully and efficiently.

Since 2016, Civic Consulting Alliance has worked with CPD on various projects pertaining to the Department’s strategic planning and reforms. Building on this work, in the fall of 2018, Civic Consulting Alliance began to work with OCP to help the agency prepare for the January 2019 Consent Decree, which placed a strong emphasis on community-policing and mandated changes at the OCP to reflect this focus.

To begin, Civic Consulting Alliance and our pro bono partners, Bain & Company and Deloitte, designed an operating model and an evaluation process to drive the OCP’s work. Then, in the first half of 2019, we worked to operationalize these changes by:

  • Implementing an updated OCP governance structure and management system; and

  • Conducting community conversations with more than 2,000 community members to create District and Bureau Strategic Plans that embed community policing approaches into crime reduction strategies.

My colleagues and I are grateful to Civic Consulting Alliance for helping us make strategic changes to our systems and processes to improve how our Department approaches community policing.
— Dwayne Betts, Deputy Chief, Office of Community Policing, Chicago Police Department

By providing the capacity to implement these recommendations, Civic Consulting Alliance helped transform OCP operations to more effectively track, measure, and improve CPD’s community policing. Ultimately, this work aims to make communities and police safer by improving the quality of policing and the relationship between CPD and the communities it serves.


  • Office of Community Policing equipped with: vision and mission; inventory of initiatives; governance structure; operations management framework; process for Community Policing Strategic Plans; and measurement approach to assess success

  • Community Policing Strategic Plans for all 22 CPD districts


  • All reporting districts have shown positive progress against the metrics tracked in the Community Policing Strategic Plans

  • Doubled the long-term capacity of the Office of Community Policing

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Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC)

In 2016, a coalition of funders formed the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC)—today a collaborative of more than 40 funders working to reduce gun violence and rebuild police legitimacy in Chicago.

PSPC’s model is innovative, aligning philanthropic stakeholders with diverse missions to support proven and promising approaches to reduce gun violence. From the beginning, Civic Consulting Alliance has driven this work forward, building upon our body of Public Safety and Criminal Justice platform work and our experience managing complex collaboratives to provide project management, operational, and fundraising support.

In 2019, we:

  • Convened monthly meetings of the Working Group, PSPC’s executive committee, to provide strategic direction and oversight;

  • Convened bimonthly meetings of all funder members to align on investment strategies, review progress, and share lessons learned;

  • Managed the communications team to plan and execute communications strategies; and

  • Coordinated with teams at UChicago Crime Labs, Northwestern University’s Neighborhood & Network Initiative, and MarginNotes conducting evaluations of PSPC’s direct services strategies—Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago, Metropolitan Family Services’ Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), and the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, respectively.

There is evidence to suggest that PSPC investments may be helping to reduce gun violence. For example, from 2016 to 2018, the number of homicides in Chicago decreased by 27%, while shootings dropped by 33%. In the first half of 2019, these trends have continued.

While these statistics are encouraging, much remains to be done—and, as we enter the collaborative’s third year, PSPC funders are committed to doing more. Ultimately, PSPC hopes that its investments in innovative interventions will scale evidence-based gun violence prevention strategies that can inform public policy and secure public funding—sustainably and substantially reducing violence in Chicago.

While the reduction in violence that we’ve seen over the last few years is encouraging and is a testament to the work of our community members and groups as well as the efforts of our public safety teams, there is no level of gun violence that is acceptable, and much remains to be done.
— Helene Gayle, President and CEO, The Chicago Community Trust
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We cannot continue to do the same thing, hoping each year is going to be better.
— Julia Stasch, Former President, MacArthur Foundation
Civic Consulting Alliance has been a strong partner for PSPC. Civic Consulting Alliance’s depth of knowledge and incisive approach has helped our unique collaborative drive progress towards our goal of reducing gun violence in Chicago.
— Ellen Alberding, President and Board Member, The Joyce Foundation


  • PSPC grew from 30 members in 2018 to more than 40 in 2019, including funders who had not previously supported public safety issues—raising awareness of and support for violence reduction in Chicago

  • Refined investment and fundraising strategy for 2019-2020

  • Refined police reform and community engagement strategies focused on: continuing to support the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability’s work on community-police oversight, and expanding the Neighborhood Policing Initiative

  • More than $75 million committed to support an evidence-based portfolio of strategies to reduce gun violence, which included:

    • Street outreach and transitional jobs

    • Police reform and community engagement

    • Gun policy reform

    • Rapid-response grants for grassroots events and projects


  • READI Chicago connected 500 men who are highly impacted by gun violence with paid transitional jobs, cognitive behavioral therapy, and support services

  • CP4P reached an average of more than 4000 individuals per month across its nine service neighborhoods, hosting Light in the Night events, connecting participants to conflict mediation, street outreach, case management, re-entry, and victim assistance services through community-based organizations

  • In January 2019, Governor Pritzker signed new legislation that requires Illinois firearms dealers to attain licenses from the state, giving the state greater oversight of gun dealers

  • In summer 2018, nearly 40,000 Chicagoans attended community events organized by 132 neighborhood organizations with funding from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities


Cook County Pretrial Stakeholders’ Group

Nearly three-quarters of the men and women in Cook County Jail are held accused, but not convicted, of non-violent crimes. Many defendants could be safely released before trial, but cannot afford their bond. The human cost is high: while detainees await trial, their lives are interrupted, often affecting their housing, employment, education, and relationships. The cost to taxpayers is also high: as the nation’s second-largest jail, Cook County Jail costs Illinois taxpayers more than $300 million annually. At the same time, those who are a threat to society should not be allowed to buy their way out of jail while awaiting trial.

Recognizing these costs, in 2013, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle asked the Illinois Supreme Court to intervene. The Court produced an audit with 40 recommendations to reduce the number of low-risk defendants being detained and to ensure that those who pose a threat are not released. In fall 2014, Civic Consulting Alliance began working with the Cook County Board President, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Sheriff, Public Defender, Chief Judge, and State's Attorney—the Cook County Pretrial Stakeholders’ Group—to implement the audit recommendations.

Since 2014, Civic Consulting Alliance has provided strategic project management to the Stakeholders’ by: convening the Stakeholders’ quarterly; guiding project implementation planning; and monitoring initiative performance.

Civic Consulting Alliance has been integral to our collaborative’s success. We are proud of the reduction in jail population we have seen over the past five years, and Civic Consulting Alliance provided the organization and expertise that we needed to work together towards this goal.
— Judge David Coar, Arbitrator, JAMS


  • Convened the Cook County Board President, Public Defender, State's Attorney, Sheriff's Office, Chief Judge, and Clerk of the Circuit Court and other criminal justice stakeholders quarterly to align on reforms to Cook County’s bond court


  • 57% fewer people detained every day in Cook County Jail than in 2013, bringing the daily jail population to its lowest level since 1991

  • Less than 1% of felony defendants released on bond were charged with committing a new violent offense

  • Over the past year, the number of defendants who have been deemed a threat and not given the opportunity for bail increased by nearly 20%

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