1997-2000 West Side Drug Area Shutdown Project

In 1997 THE AUSTIN VOICE and Chicago Civic Media teamed up to create the Shutdown Project, as we called it, with 15th District (Austin) police then led by District Commander John Richardson and subsequently by Lorenzo Davis. This partnership of citizens and police was nurtured, coordinated and celebrated in community and citywide media (e.g. by Cliff Kelley on WVON). 

We called it Media-driven CAPS. It was media-driven community policing. The strategy, developed with 15th District police, was simple: police took and held public drug dealing areas in response to tip-offs and reports coming from beat police and Austin residents empowered to act together, as a community, by local and citywide media. 

Further empowering Austin residents were two large, catered community events organized and promoted in the THE AUSTIN VOICE, with each event attracting religious, political, business and community leaders, Chicago media personalities and over 100 Austin residents. 

For two years, the Shutdown project succeeded beyond all expectations, with its success in 15th District leading to versions of it being implemented in two adjoining districts: the 25th District north of Austin and the 11th District east of Austin.

In 1999, Chicago Civic Media submitted this ten-page Shutdown Project Proposal to the Chicago Police Department for possible implementation on a citywide basis. There was no response. The CPD in effect turned a deaf ear to the recommendations the Commanders of the 11th, 15th and 25th police districts. 

Costs of the Shutdown Project? They were negligible. It worked on a pro bono basis for two-years. with the hope that its successes would generate funds needed to sustain it permanently. Efforts to secure support from funders and City Hall, however, met with no response.

Here's a project timeline:

2001
  • Jun 5 Invitation to 3rd Town Hall Meeting of West Side Drug Area Shutdown Project emceed by Dorothy Tucker of Channel 2 News
2000
  • Jan 19 Agendafor January 19 Shutdown Project Kickoff Banquet at Austin branch of the Harris Bank with keynote address by WVON radio personality Cliff Kelley. This event attracted over 100 participants including Austin's political, law enforcement and education leaders.
  • Jan 11 Letter asking Austin residents to participate in the Shutdown Project from Commanders of the 15th and 25th Police Districts and Deputy CPD Chief Thomas Byrne.
1999
  • Sep 20 Ten-page Shutdown Project Proposal to Chicago Police Department by Chicago Civic Media. Document proposes citywide implementation of the media-driven West Side Drug Area Shutdown Project. Gives history of the West Side project. Spells out the methodology of media-driven community policing.
  • Sep 9 Linkage Letter from AV to CCM illustrate the type of agreement media can make with each other and cooperating organizations.
1997
  • Feb 2 Chicago Sun-Times column by Dennis Byrne "Voice of the People" about Austin Voice Editor Brad Cummings
  • 1997 - Chicago Civic Media maintains the Shutdown Project Website extensive Shutdown Project materials are at this site.
AUSTIN 15TH POLICE DISTRICT
JULY 23 2017 UPDATE
THE 15TH DISTRICT NOW HAS FOUR OF CHICAGO'S 10 
MOST VIOLENT POLICE PRECINCTS: 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES JULY 23 2017 STORY AND GRAPHIC





The Shutdown Project pioneered the concept of media-driven community policing. It was partnership of Chicago police and neighborhood community groups initiated and energized by local media (The Austin Voice) with support from citywide media (WVON radio and the Chicago Sun-Times).

1999 "Rat Patrol" Coupon from the Front Page of the THE AUSTIN VOICE

Below is the official March 31, 2000 Shutdown Project 15th District precinct map listing 66 public drug dealing areas in Austin's 15th District, with comments on the status of some areas. This map records and blends two independent counts of public drug hotspots, with one made by Austin Voice readers and the other by 15th District police led by Commander John Richardson.