CPD Intelligence Operations and Policy Series - Part 1: District Coordination Officer Program - Introduction to Governing Policies


This is a re-print of an original Chicago-One News article originally hosted on the very first Chicago-One News website. 

The City of Chicago is home to 2.71 million people across all walks of life. Our bustling metropolis is an ever growing AND ever shrinking place due to the changing times that are part of an ever changing society. This comes with great possibilities and hopes for the current day AND the future. Sadly, it also comes with problems of crime. With crime comes localized threats unique to our city, while also coming with threats from outside our city, county, state, and national borders.

Those threats create a unique need for officers detectives, and their chain of command to conduct intelligence operations that protect the masses by overt proactive steps, as well as covert operations which both serve to undermine and stop known threats while also detecting new and emerging threats, some of which require covert investigative operations and intelligence work by sworn law enforcement personnel, including civilian partners such as intelligence analysts.

The public can't always come to the police, or events held in the community by police. The public doesn't always trust the police, and there is a well documented history showing why. This means there is a gap that needs to be filled, a bridge to be built. Here is where the DCO position comes in. DCO is the Chicago Police acronym for District Coordination Officer.
Evelyn Holmes reported on the DCO program for ABC 7 Chicago on Feb 6th, 2020

Chicago Police created a video that was published on March 10th, 2020. That video centers on what the department termed the "Neighborhood Policing Initiative Program". This is the program that created the DCO position and function, and it started in CPD's most diverse district, Grand Central, also known as the 025th District at 5555 W. Grand Ave. This is also the home of the Area 5 Detectives. The 025th District has for decades also been known as "Area 5 Center" as shown on the big sign adorning the front parking lot of that facility.

The video is hosted by 025th District Officers Salcedo and Lopez, both of whom are District Coordination Officers.

Together, they are one of several "25D" units in the district, and their specific district beat assignment is 25D15, not to be confused with beat 2515. 2515 is a district unit that answers calls. DCO units don't have that responsibility. Their only job is to build relationships in the community, therefore gaining valuable intelligence they otherwise wouldn't be able to gather.

On January 28th, 2021, the Twitter verified Chicago Police Department Twitter account posted the below tweet containing a video featuring current CPD Superintendent, David Brown, talking to sworn officers undergoing DCO training.

Delving into The DCO Program

While the Chicago Police Department uses all of the above language to say one thing, they're actually doing another. This is a common verbal and psychological sleight of hand used in the law enforcement and intelligence professions so the public sees one thing, but doesn't "see" (catch on to) the actual intelligence operation itself. To simplify this more, the language used is to conceal that what the DCO program is, an intelligence operation with a chain-of-command that includes the following (from language used by the City of Chicago):

  • District Management Team—a team consisting of members designated by the district commander. The District Management Team will counsel, advise, and direct district members to ensure effective and coordinated implementation of district coordination officer (DCO) strategies.
  • District Coordination Sergeant (DCS)—a sergeant assigned to the Neighborhood Policing Initiative
    Pilot Program directly ensuring that district coordination officers (DCOs) are building relationships
    with community stakeholders, identifying chronic crime conditions, addressing community-oriented
    concerns, and establishing problem-oriented solutions while also ensuring strategic responsibilities
    are assigned to district personnel.
  • District Coordination Lieutenant (DLO)—a lieutenant assigned to the Neighborhood Policing
    Initiative Pilot Program directly overseeing the district coordination sergeant (DCS) and the district
    coordination officers (DCO).
  • Bureau of Detectives to provide limited scope of training appropriate to the DCO function and purpose

The form a DCO fills out each day, known as CPD form 21.152 or the "Neighborhood Policing Program - DCO / Beat Officer Daily Debriefing Log" specifically asks about people the officer met with, where the meeting happened, when, and what intelligence was shared. This form also asks about gang intelligence, troubled buildings, and additional information. The form is signed by two officer(s), one of which can be a DCO or a separate DCO, a Watch Operations Lieutenant, the DCO Lieutenant, and and the District Commander. This form can be downloaded from the Chicago Police Directives System under Department Forms. This form is in the 21.000 series forms list and is listed as number 26 on that list as of this date.

There are other reports completed by the DCOs on each watch in each DCO sector. Those reports are identified as: 

  • Neighborhood Policing Program—Daily Activity Report (CPD-21.142)
  • Neighborhood Policing Program—Problem Solving Report—Identification (CPD-21.141-A)
  • Neighborhood Policing Program—Problem Solving Report—Follow Up (CPD-21.141-B)
  • Neighborhood Policing Program—Problem Solving Report—Closure (CPD-21.141-C)

Whenever a violent incident occurs, the DCO completes a Violent Incident Follow-up (CPD 21.153)

How The City of Chicago Used Obfuscation and Deception to Keep Details of The DCO Function and Purpose From The Public

The Chicago police Department created General Order G02-03, "Community Policing Mission and Vision" on 31 December 2020, the day before the 2021 new year

This is a 12-page policy that replaces an April 2016 version of the same policy, and lays out the responsibilities and functions of every department member with regards to carrying-out this policy. However, Chicago-One News found out that the Chicago Police Department updated this policy as of June 30th, 2021, and added a NEW Department-wide notice labeled by CPD as Department Notice D21-04 (was D21-03 in draft version), creating the Neighborhood Policing Initiative Pilot-Program. 

Tom Ahern, the Deputy Director of of News Affairs and Communications for Chicago Police stated to Chicago-One News in an e-mail on July 9th, 2021, that CPD had a public comment period for these policies from June 14th to June 29th, 2021. The department's main Twitter account sent out one tweet for each of these policies announcing the pubic comment period, but never tweeted again on the matter to remind the public. The department's Facebook page shows that CPD posted once for each policy public comment period on June 14th, 2021 for a total of three posts. There was no TV or radio publicity campaign, which shows that CPD relied solely on social media.

Official CPD website link to the public comment period for revised G02-03

Official CPD website link to the public comment period for revised S02-03

Official CPD website link to the public comment period for NEW policy D21-04


Department Notice D21-04 creates the DCO position, gives the DCO and the DCO's chain-of-command their responsibilities, and tells everyone at CPD (as well as the public) how the Neighborhood Policing Initiative Pilot-Program is going to work. 

But wait.....these policies are dated for 30 June 2021, meaning that the DCO program was happening BEFORE the effective date of the policy officially creating the DCO position (D21-04). 

Neither D21-04, nor the new version of G02-03 or S02-03 say what laws or regulations civilians have to play by to obtain the intelligence information they're providing to the DCO, and there is no requirement in either of these policies that the intelligence information given to the DCO and then channeled back from the DCO through the DCO's daily reporting, or chain-of-command, has to be vetted or what such a vetting process would look like. 

Chicago-One news asked Tom Ahern about how CPD is vetting the intelligence they obtain to prevent critical errors, and what state laws govern CPD's intelligence gathering. Chicago-One News also asked Ahern whether or not the federal DNI laws & policies act as any sort of model for CPD.  

Any intelligence gathering program is subject to what is known as the "intelligence cycle" consisting of six steps taken to make sure that intelligence is is good and can be used properly.

The Chicago Police Department does not even reference these steps or how these steps are to be worked in any of the department's policies, including D21-04 or G02-03 where DCO/DIO/Area Detective positions are mentioned. Not even the chain-of-command is instructed in any of this in any CPD policy.

The districts CPD has rolled-out this DCO pilot program to are districts that are already well over-policed.

 Department Notice D21-04

D21-04 sets out operational geography for DCOs in each of ten districts during the pilot phase of the DCO program. Those districts are 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, 009, 010, 011, 015, and 025. There are two district coordination officers (DCO) per district coordination area (DCA) and five district coordination areas. This means ten DCO personnel.
The Chicago Police Department states that the District Coordination Area covered by each DCO within their district will consist of three beats but also says that the DCA is based on that population's demographics

The DCO has a job description listing 14 orders to be carried-out, and two of those specify gathering intelligence while the other one (#12) specifies assisting Area Detectives in conducting investigations and intelligence sharing.


Revised General Order G02-03

Revised Special Order S02-03
This policy was not only given a new title, but was completely re-written from the December 2020 version of S02-03. That 2020 version rescinded a December 2017 version of this same policy.

The Community Policing Office has a long history behind it. That history isn't a simple story to tell because it doesn't really have a straight timeline. This office has functioned under various operational names. Back in the 1990s, the term "Community Policing" was around, but the office was known as "Neighborhood Relations", and later as CAPS (Community Alternative Policing Strategy). What the public never really knew is that no matter what name this specific CPD operation held, it was always an extension of the district Tactical unit and the Bureau of Detectives.

For the most part, everyone assigned to that office worked in street clothes. 

Was this particular CPD operation an intelligence operation way back when? 

Yes it was, and that was always its main function, to serve as an intelligence hub for the department at the district-level AND for the Bureau of Detectives. This office, regardless of what name it used at any given time, is the main point of contact for all of the Chicago Public Schools in each respective CPD district.

Today's Community Policing Office has the structure seen in this graphic as of June 14th, 2021. The Deputy Chief of this office, and the office itself reports to the Office of The Superintendent.

While each district has a Community Policing Office, there is a central (main) Community Policing office at 35th & Michigan. The Community Policing Office has always been the main intelligence hub and nerve-center for the CPD School Unit, the Gang School Safety Team, CPD's Gang Investigation Division, Narcotics & Vice Division, the Youth Section/Youth Division, Special Investigations Unit, Special Victims Unit, and the First Deputy's Office.

Community Policing has also historically been the home of any and all youth programs in the community such as Junior Police, Police Explorers, and Peer Jury. Many times, Police Explorers will be appointed to the Peer Jury under proper supervision.

The new and revised Special Order S02-03 is just below for the public to review.

This ends part-1 of this series. Part-2 of this series will be a broader, more generalized overview of Chicago Police Dept. intelligence operations. 

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