An overview of Chicago Police Department directives related to our ongoing project on school resource officers.

By Olivia Ashton Cunningham

A CPD officer chats with community members at a CAPS meeting. (Photo: Maria Cardona)

A CPD officer chats with community members at a CAPS meeting. (Photo: Maria Cardona)

“Why doesn’t Chicago police have a unit that specializes in being in Chicago public schools?”

City Bureau and WBEZ’s Curious City are seeking answers to this important question. A deep dive into Chicago Police Department directives (the police rulebook) for school resource officers yielded little, so we backed up and looked for any directives involving youth or minors.

There is only one CPD directive for police interactions with youth on school grounds (“Processing School Absentees,” referring to how officers treat school-aged children who are on school grounds but not in class). No other directive refers to officers on school grounds or how school resource officers are expected to behave when interacting with schoolchildren.

Beyond that, CPD involvement with youth is mentioned only within “Processing Persons” and “Human Rights and Community Partnerships” directives.

Processing of Juveniles and Minors Under Departmental Control is the most detailed of these related directives, which states the obligations of the arresting officer and the rights of the persons under 18 years old in custody. Officers must read the Juvenile Miranda Warning and conclude with the following questions: “Do you want to have a lawyer?” and “Do you want to talk to me?”

Officers must notify the parent/guardian that the minor has been detained and where he or she is being held. The minor has the right to request a lawyer and notify his or her parent/guardian that an attorney “has requested visitation.” Minors under 15 years old must have legal representation present during interrogation.

All four “Human Rights and Community Partnership” directives explicitly involving youth have been updated within the last two years, includingDistrict-level Strategies to Combat Chronic Crime and Disorder, Peer Jury Program, School Visitation Unit programs including the Officer Friendly ProgramGang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) and the Bridging the Divide Program.

District-level Strategies to Combat Chronic Crime and Disorder was issued and put into effect in April 2016 (revised from a version in January 2009). This directive offers a list of initiatives that help “facilitate and assist in the implementation of the Department’s community relations strategy.” This includes community-oriented programs, some of which involve young people, from “Sports Leagues” to “Prayer Vigils and Peace Circles.” Community seminars and forums include “Youth Forums and Teen Sessions” and “Campus Safety Seminars.” There are no explanations or descriptions of any of the initiatives listed.

District Commanders are responsible for the “analysis, development, approval, implementation, discontinuation” of these strategies, however, they are not required to use or participate in any of the initiatives.

Peer Jury Program was issued and put into effect April 2016 (revised from the November 2014 version). The program was established by the Juvenile Court Act and operates under CPD. The peer jury is a panel of “youth volunteers who live or attend school in the district” and is only authorized to decide on “certain minor juvenile offenses.” A Peer Jury Liaison Officer supervises the youth volunteers, and a moderator works with the panel.

The Deputy Chief of Community Relations is charged with the “proper training” of police personnel, moderators and peer jury volunteers. Moderators must complete an application and background/name check. Parents/Guardians of a minor victim must be notified that the case has been sent to a peer jury.

Officer Friendly ProgramG.R.E.A.T. and D.A.R.EThese three programs place police officers within classrooms in order to foster relationships with young people and discourage them from harmful behavior. Officer Friendly targets kindergarten through third grade, focusing on relationship building. D.A.R.E. is for kindergarten through sixth grade classes, focusing on fifth and sixth graders especially to keep young people from experimenting with alcohol, drugs and “acts of violence.” G.R.E.A.T. assigns an officer to a fourth through eighth-grade class to teach and reinforce realistic goal setting, positively resolving conflicts and understanding “how gangs impact the quality of life in any community, regardless of the economic level.” Officers interested in becoming instructors for these programs must contact the School Visitation Unit for an application and obtain signed approval from their unit commanding officer.

Unlike school resource officers, participation in these programs requires specialized training: The Officer Friendly Program requires two hours of training; G.R.E.A.T requires 60 hours; D.A.R.E. requires 80 hours. Participation in G.R.E.A.T. and D.A.R.E. training is “at the discretion of the commanding officer.” Applicants for all programs are selected with special preference given to members “available to teach the program during working hours, are comfortable and willing to teach school-aged youth and will be a positive role model for the youth they instruct.”

Bridging the Divide was issued in December 2016 and put into effect in January 2017. The program was created by the YMCA Youth Safety and Violence Prevention Team and CPD. However, a YMCA Youth Safety and Violence Prevention team representative is not required to implement the program.

Its purpose is to “build relationships and increase understanding between youth, law enforcement officials and other community members by offering opportunities for dialogue” and other activities. Youth may participate via membership in Youth Subcommittees and opportunities with the District Advisory Committee. These dialogues are sometimes recorded and may be accessed on SoundCloud.


Support the work of City Bureau Reporting Fellows like Olivia Cunningham by becoming a City Bureau Press Club member today.

To get twice-monthly emails including Chicago news and events, sign up for City Bureau’s
Chicago newsletter.