Chicago Housing Authority Police Department - Controversies - The "real" Police?

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The "real" Police?

The average citizen within the boundaries of Cook County and the City of Chicago was confused about the legitimacy of the CHAPD and questioned whether they were "the real police". Since the CHA had employed the use of contract security firms since the 1960s and created its own security force at the same time that the CHAPD was formed, the general public assumed that the new department and its members were also security and did not possess the power of arrest. The local media added to the public being misled by referring to the new patrolmen as a "security force" or "...presence", but never as "police officers".

The CHAPD started out with one police station located in the Robert Taylor Homes. Their first class of 86 males and 5 females was trained and graduated from the Timothy J. O’Connor Chicago Police Academy as state certified Police Officers. The first and second class of police recruits for the CHAPD followed the same curriculum as recruits for the CPD, but with a twist.

Because public housing was considered a battleground instead of an average beat, academy instructors would often express to the CHAPD recruits that their work environment would expose them to more extreme situations that the average CPD officer would encounter in the first five years on the job, so the physical fitness and combat training was intensified to give the first class a necessary edge for their efficiency and daily survival.

Suburban departments' standards for the training of their personnel differed in scope and duration. The remaining three classes of recruits for CHA followed a condensed version of the original CHAPD and CPD recruits.

The fledgling department experienced logistical and equipment difficulties that occasionally manifested itself in the form of two individuals sharing a radio during a tour of duty, or forced foot patrol for lack of vehicles. Both of these shortcomings were but a few of the problems the new officers faced, but were significant because they placed them in greater peril.

Without the proper communication, or transportation for themselves and prisoners, the officers may not have been able to arrive, escape, or call for help at a key moment. The first group compensated for the technological shortcoming with teamwork and professionalism. They realized that they were entrusted to do a job that the city's vast and famous police department had been incapable and fearful of, along with successfully paving the way for future hirees.

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