A $10 million grant will support Crime Lab collaboration for police innovation

Grant from Ken Griffin supports strategic capabilities, research partnerships, officer supports

A $10 million grant from philanthropist Ken Griffin will support a transformative new initiative to reduce violent crime in Chicago, through a collaboration with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Police Department and the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

The grant to the University of Chicago will strengthen violence prevention efforts by the city of Chicago and Chicago police by ensuring officers have the tools and support they need to more effectively fight violent crime and build community trust. It will accelerate proven programs, advance technology and data analytics, provide officer training and support, and launch an innovation fund to help make Chicago a safer place to live and work. The grant builds on the city of Chicago’s comprehensive effort to promote effective and equitable policing and complements the work of city agencies and community partners implementing the city’s public safety strategy.

The University of Chicago is committed to advancing urban research with the potential to make a lasting impact in addressing society’s greatest challenges. Since the University launched the Crime Lab in 2008, the initiative has partnered with community organizations across the country to design, rigorously test and scale programs with the greatest potential to improve lives. These efforts include programs such as Choose to Change’s trauma-informed mentoring and therapy for Chicago youth, and the recently launched READI Chicago initiative, which provides intensive transitional jobs and wraparound supports for those at the center of Chicago’s violence. This new grant to support police innovation complements these other efforts to improve academic outcomes for youth, enhance income opportunities for those living in communities most impacted by violence and reduce the harms of the criminal justice system.  

“This incredibly generous donation will help us deliver on our comprehensive public safety strategy by expanding training, technology and trust between police and residents,” said Emanuel. “This is another demonstration of how civic innovation, academia and philanthropy can come together to create meaningful and lasting impact for the city we all love. The impact of Ken’s donation will be felt for generations to come.”

The grant will support the Chicago Police Department and the Crime Lab’s joint efforts to leverage data analysis, community input and technology resources to improve public safety in four key ways: sustaining the Crime Lab’s support of the strategic decision support centers, advancing the use of data analytics within the police department, strengthening training and other supports to frontline officers, and leveraging research and technical expertise to support a safer Chicago in every neighborhood.

“As a community, we are unified in our desire for Chicago to be a safer place to live and work. No child, anywhere, should be afraid to walk to school or play outside. A safer Chicago attracts more families and better jobs, and provides a better quality of life for all,” said Ken Griffin. “I am proud to support the University of Chicago Crime Lab, whose programs have had a powerful impact on reducing violent crime. I hope this initiative inspires other leaders to join the important efforts by many to make our city safer for everyone.”

“The Crime Lab was created with the explicit goal of trying to make our city safer and more equitable for all who live here,” said Roseanna Ander, founding executive director of Crime Lab. “This generous grant will further our efforts to use data and evidence to drive progress, building on our decade of partnership with city agencies and community-based organizations across Chicago. We are proud to work with Ken Griffin and the department to further these efforts to reduce violence, to promote community engagement and trust, and to enhance opportunities for all Chicagoans.”

The new initiative complements and augments efforts to reduce violent crime in Chicago since 2016, when the city experienced a substantial increase in homicides. That includes work by partners at Chicago CRED, the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, and the Chicago Sports Alliance. Announced in December 2017, the alliance is a collaboration between the Crime Lab and the five largest Chicago professional sports teams (Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox), who collectively donated a total of $1 million in grants to address violence in the city.

Strengthening and expanding strategic decision support centers

In early 2017, the Chicago Police Department, in close collaboration with the Crime Lab, launched the first strategic decision support centers. The SDSCs bring together a suite of technology resources, including gunshot detection systems, digital cameras and software that highlights areas in communities that are at the highest risk of violence. District commanders use these resources to monitor crime developments in real-time; develop localized crime reduction strategies to meet the needs of, and with input from, the community; and then adjust activities to prevent crime more effectively.

The weaving together of technology, analytical processes, leadership and robust community engagement is showing dramatic results with the 7th District, or Englewood, seeing a 67 percent decrease in shootings compared to 2016 and the 25th District, or Grand Central, already seeing a 40 percent reduction in shootings compared to 2017. Since their launch, the Crime Lab has embedded data analysts in the SDSCs to provide analytic support, develop processes for using data to guide decision-making and to identify opportunities for collaboration with community partners. The data from Crime Lab analysts supports Chicago officers as they develop localized crime reduction strategies using data analysis, human intelligence and input from the community. These efforts are tailored to meet the unique needs of each community, with community concerns incorporated into the district's daily planning process. A significant portion of the grant will support the Crime Lab’s continued collaboration with Chicago police in the SDSC program through 2019.

Advancing the use technology and tools to drive data analytics

The effective use of technology is at the heart of effective modern policing. The donation will expand the Chicago police’s collaboration with the Crime Lab to grow the department’s analytical framework, prioritizing data gathering, analysis and improved display of police’s core crime management system, CompStat, as well as improving the flow of information delivered and shared between police headquarters and districts. This grant will support the enhancement of the analytics framework within the police department in order to better integrate and share data across the department and improve the data management systems used to fight crime and enhance community interactions.

Supporting officers’ professional development and wellness

The Chicago Police Department is currently in the process of working with the Crime Lab to design a system to identify when and how to extend officers additional support if needed. The donation will fund the development of a comprehensive set of supports and services for front-line Chicago officers, such as training and mental health resources, that prioritize the needs of the officers and the residents of the neighborhoods where they work. Drawing on national best practices and the expertise of executive staff from police departments across the country, this work will identify, implement and evaluate robust services and supports for the officers that need them most. 

Crime Lab Innovation Fund

This collaboration between the Crime Lab and the Chicago Police Department will aim to develop evidence to improve the Chicago police’s work as well as its relationship with the community. Building off recent experience, Chicago police and Crime Lab will use part of this grant to continue to collaborate on a series of innovative initiatives, including leveraging national expertise to assist and advise the department and help bring police operations set the standard for national best practices. The Crime Lab will work with the police department as a research partner that will include developing rapid response evaluations of questions in the field and designing long-term intervention tests that will ensure the police department and the Crime Lab are well positioned to benefit from emerging trends and new technology in community safety.

The Chicago Police Department is currently expanding its smart policing strategy to the 25th District and the department doubles the number of districts utilizing predictive strategies in 2018 to 13 of Chicago’s 22 districts. In the 25th District, a station-based Strategic Decision Support Center has been installed along with gunshot detection technology and additional crime cameras, to support police in preventing, combating and responding to violent crime. Year-to-date, across the police districts that have implemented an SDSC since at least January, the number of shooting victims has decreased by 41 percent, outpacing reductions citywide.