CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Ahead of Memorial Day, Chicago will deploy a citywide team of “Peacekeepers” in an effort to address high rates of shootings and violence.
Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services made the joint announcement of the Citywide Crisis Prevention & Response Unit (CPRU) on Thursday.
The CPRU is described as “a highly mobile team that is specifically designed to prevent violence and address conflict and crises in the City of Chicago.”
More than 30 trained, neighborhood “Peacekeepers” will serve Chicago’s most violence-prone neighborhoods.
“The CPRU is an essential tool in keeping our communities safe because these individuals bring invaluable insight and knowledge that allow us to reduce conflict before it escalates, so we are proactive instead of reactive in addressing the causes of violent crime,” said Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.
The Peacekeeper program is funded by the Reimagine Public Safety Act, a $250 million anti-violence initiative created as a reaction to the murder of George Floyd. Cities nationwide began to rethink the role of law enforcement following nationwide protests and civil unrest over Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer.
The Peacekeepers are part of a “community-focused” approach to addressing violent conflict, with members undergoing training in crowd de-escalation tactics, crisis intervention, and referrals to mental health or substance abuse programs.
“This expanded training equips violence prevention coordinators to operate beyond their typical neighborhoods to address other areas of potential conflict or crisis, such as recent large teen gatherings in downtown Chicago or mass casualty events,” the governor’s office said in a press release.
The program is “designed to center equity in anti-violence work, ensuring that the staff deployed to serve communities are representative of and share backgrounds with those communities.”