You’ve shared your schedule with colleagues and family. You meet new clients in public areas. You have a distress code in place and remain aware of your surroundings. You’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. But there’s still one safety precaution to take into consideration.
Creating a working relationship with your beat cops can keep you informed on what’s happening in your community. We spoke with the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) Director of the Office of Community Policing, Glen Brooks, to get his exclusive insight on how to form these relationships and get tips to keep yourself safe while transacting.
Beat Officers & CAPS: What You Need to Know
Before we jump in, it’s important to know two terms frequently used by the CPD.
CAPS, or Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, is a program that combines the efforts of officers and the community to combat violence and crime.
Beat officers are officers working under the CAPS umbrella. They provide the most direct service to people in your neighborhood, patrolling the streets and responding to calls. There are 277 beats in Chicago, and each beat has eight to nine beat officers. Think about it this way: when you call 911, the officer dispatched to your location is a beat officer.
Establishing a Working Relationship
Just as you form relationships with your clients, you can start a working relationship with the beat officers in the neighborhoods where you have listings.
First, you need to identify the officer of your beat. Start by finding out which beat you’re located in by calling 311, visiting the “community” section of chicagopolice.org or calling your alderman’s office. Once you have identified your beat(s), you can check out their schedule for upcoming beat meetings.
An informal meeting between beat officers and community stakeholders, beat meetings occur monthly. According to Brooks, beat meetings are the cornerstone of the CAPS program, fostering a two-way discussion between officers and residents to share knowledge and feedback on area happenings, as well as policies and safety strategies.
The beat meeting is the best way to meet and introduce yourself to your beat officers. Not only will you be in a room with them, you’ll also get the chance to receive exclusive insight on what’s going on in your beat.
The relationship between REALTORS® and officers should be reciprocal. “In order to create safer neighborhoods, it takes a lot of work from all stakeholders,” Brooks said. “Sharing information is powerful and necessary to build safe communities.”
If you can’t attend a beat meeting, don’t worry. You have two other options to introduce yourself. First, you can reach out to your CAPS office. They can help you arrange a meeting with your beat officers. You can also get involved in community groups like block clubs, chambers of commerce and park advisory boards, to name a few. Beat officers will likely stop by these programs to meet those who are actively involved in their communities, so this is a great way to represent yourself as a community leader and advocate.
You’ve Met Your Beat Cop. Now What?
Brooks emphasized that knowledge is power. Communicate with your beat officer and attend beat meetings to get neighborhood information. Beat officers know the ins and outs of their areas, so they can inform you of any crime trends and locations.
Aside from getting a heads up on neighborhood activity, how can you work with your beat officers to ensure your safety?
It’s critical that you have a plan in place while transacting, and if you feel threatened or something feels off, you can always drive to a nearby police station. If you’re hosting an open house and want to notify a professional in case of an emergency, Brooks suggested reaching out to your CAPS office. If an emergency happens that requires 911 assistance, the office will know where the open house is happening and who’s hosting it. They can then deploy an on-duty officer your way.
If you’re interested in getting tips from officers, Brooks said they are willing to make office visits and debrief your team on best safety practices.
Visit our online REALTOR® safety toolkit for more tips on proactive safety measures to incorporate into your career.