A New Set of Voqal Grants in Chicago

Today Voqal  announced a series of new grants here in Chicago. Here’s a snip from their press release:

The Voqal Fund is pleased to announce six new grants to organizations working in the Chicago area to enhance the community and strengthen social equity. The grants  to Chicago Filmmakers (Chicago Digital Media Production Fund), BYP100, Illinois Coalition for  Immigrant and Refugee Rights, City Bureau, State Innovation Exchange (SiX) and Illinois  Humanities reflect Voqal Fund’s commitment to support progressive movements for social
change.

Being a part of the Voqal board is one of my great joys. I am personally invested in many of these grants. The work of stitching together a coherent set of workers— led by Voqal program officer Leah Pryor-Lease—  is very much worth doing.

Here’s the complete press release.

City Bureau 2015 at the Firehouse

Report: Chicago Police Accountability Task Force

PATF_Final_Report_Executive_Summary_4_13_16Today marks the publication of the  Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, “Recommendations for Reform: Restoring Trust between the Chicago Police and the Communities they Serve“.

I served on the Early Intervention & Personnel Concerns working group, and helped develop this recommendation:

publish, on a monthly basis, aggregate data on the following: new and pending complaints by unit, disciplinary actions, missed court dates, new civil legal proceedings against officers, new criminal legal proceedings against officers, vehicle pursuits, vehicle collisions, uses of force, employee commendations, use of firearms, injuries to persons in custody, judicial proceedings where an officer is the subjective of a protective or restraining order, adverse judicial credibility determinations against an officer, or disciplinary actions.

Here’s a snip from a blog post I wrote, covering the significance of this recommendation and how it might be helpful in creating communion betweens residents and police: “A Radical Approach to Open Police Data

In the civic tech world, “crime data” has always been understood to be about crime reports. I myself have helped make websites, like EveryBlock, that use “crime data” of this kind.

I’ve come to believe, however, that this focus has led to a deeply skewed vision of “crime” and a dangerously incomplete view of how people can work together to improve communities around public safety data.

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But this information referenced by the Task Force is a new idea altogether. The idea is that in order to have a view of safety in a community, one has to have a view of data on how the police treat residents.

Even in aggregate format, having the police report on how many times a gun was used by an officer, or a judge ruled that an officer lied in court, or the number of times a police car was involved in a crash, can be a breakthrough in getting us to see things differently.

It’s a start in thinking that we’re all in this together— victims, police, offenders, family. That we have to measure and care about and report on all aspects of safety— not just the crime reports that officers decide to create.