(The Center Square) – With the Memorial Day weekend almost here, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the formation of a citywide “peacekeepers” team that will staff the streets of Chicago in an effort to provide crisis support during the typically violent weekend.
“The most important work we do is keeping our communities safe, and this is another important step towards addressing violence and conflict through research-based, community-focused approaches,” Pritzker told reporters. “IDHS is creatively utilizing their funding to find high-impact solutions to the current problems facing Chicago, and I’m thankful for their hard work heading into the summer months.”
The Citywide Crisis Prevention & Response Unit (CPRU) will consist of 30 peacekeepers and street outreach partners with a goal to “provide essential assistance in de-escalation, conflict resolution, and crisis support across Chicago.”
With Memorial Day weekend 2022 ending with over 50 people shot, nine of them fatally, newly elected Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said he is on board with the plan.
“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,” Johnson said. “In preparing for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer in Chicago, it is critical that we have as many stakeholders as possible at the table to ensure peace and safety on our city’s streets.”
In addition to working to broker peace, CPRU staff members will also provide support for neighborhood-based work.
The program is being funded by the Reimagine Public Safety Act.