“Community Policing and the New Immigrants: Latinos in Chicago” In Martha King
(ed.), Justice and Safety in America’s Immigrant Communities. Princeton University:
Policy Research Institute for the Region, 2006, 43-64.
This paper examines the fate of the city’s large and growing Latino population. The research
was conducted as part of an evaluation of Chicago's community policing program. The Chicago
Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) features extensive community involvement, an orientation
toward problem-solving that emphasizes collaboration between police and other city service
agencies, and organizational decentralization. The program has registered many successes,
especially among African-Americans. Crime, social disorder, physical decay, and fear improved
substantially during the course of the 1990s in predominately African-American
neighborhoods. Their involvement in the program has been extensive, and black Chicagoans
are CAPS' biggest boosters. However, the program has not made much headway among
Latinos, and by many measures they lost ground during this period. Surveys and analyses of
archival and Census data indicate that things have been getting worse, not better, for
Chicago's Latinos, especially among the burgeoning immigrant population. Our surveys and
field work reveal that the expectations that Latino newcomers bring with them are twofold – that
the police are corrupt and potentially abusive. Latinos are also under-represented in CAPS
Our surveys find that Latinos are least aware of the CAPS program and of beat meetings, and
their awareness has been falling since the late 1990s. Latinos report facing distinctive
neighborhood problems as well, and those problems are perceived as growing worse rather
than better. By many measures things got better in Chicago for other groups. To generalize,
whites began with few serious concerns, but things got a bit better for them. African-Americans
began with many serious problems, but they reported substantial improvements in
neighborhood conditions over time. The city's Latinos, on the other hand, began with serious
problems and saw little improvement over the course of a decade. By 2003,  whites and African-
Americans were in the most agreement about improvements in their neighborhoods – although
blacks certainly still had a way to go before they could claim parity. Not much improved for
Latinos, and in their eyes some problems even grew worse.
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