An expected bump in violent crime this summer has Chicago officials and community leaders rolling out strategies focused on public safety.
Recently, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced a $2.5 million investment to support violence prevention and youth outreach across Chicago by funding the work of more than 250 grassroots organizations on the South and West sides.
Still, there’s skepticism that familiar initiatives of making police officers more visible and engaging with the community, work at keeping the peace. Alderwoman Nicole Lee, 11th ward, believes police must have the resources they need to do their jobs, but also insists on accountability in addressing public needs.
Alderwoman Lee made history when she was appointed alderwoman in March 2022, as the first Asian American woman and first Chinese American to serve on City Council. In April, she was elected to a first full term representing the city’s first Asian majority ward. During her campaign, Lee highlighted that she attended every Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting to explore how her constituents could contribute to police efforts. “Attending these CAPS meetings…really allows for us to be connected to what’s happening and then be talking to residents about how we can address some of those things,” Lee said on the importance of residents being informed about public safety concerns.
In regard to civic engagement, Alderwoman Lee shared that often people do not participate in the electoral process because they don’t see themselves in government. “I’m really proud to be the representative for our community, not just for the 11th ward, but the Asian American community across the city of Chicago,” she said. “When it comes to where resources are spent or how they’re allocated – we need a voice that is representative of our community; to be looking out for our interest too.”
One of the lessons Lee says public service has taught her about people having a voice in government: If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.
“3 Questions With…” is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN), an independent, multimedia digital news outlet with local newsrooms in the Northeast and Midwest, including IL Latino News and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community centric news, hyperlocal stories and educational resources.