Friday, May 24, 2013

Eighth District Police Host First-Ever Online CAPS Meeting; More Are Coming

While online meetings are nothing new to the business world, the Chicago Police Department dipped its toe into the water Thursday night with the Eighth District's first-ever online
McNaughton types and watches the chat on a big screen
CAPS meeting.

Though just four people chose to register (via the CPD website) and participate in the event, Commander David R. McNaughton termed it a success in some ways.

"Really, we did this just to see if it works (from a logistical and technological standpoint), and it does," he said. "From there we will move forward."

The online meeting started on schedule at 7:30 p.m. and ended at 8:04, about 10 minutes ahead of time.

The topic of discussion, as determined ahead of time by CPD, was graffiti.

There was no audio or video. The experience was akin to an AOL chat from about 10 years ago, according to one of the four participants.

Questions were screened by Sergeant Allen Cain of the Eighth District CAPS Program, and then forwarded to McNaughton for reply.

A view from behind the big screen during the event.
McNaughton participated from the station's community room, immediately after a District Advisory Council meeting he attended. Several DAC members hung around to witness the event.

While CPD officials initially said that online CAPS meetings are not meant to replace face-to-face meetings, McNaughton left the door open and said such meetings may have value during cold-weather months when some people find it difficult to get out of the house.

Because some of the questions asked about graffiti are common, McNaughton said he hopes to post a transcript of the online meeting on the Eighth District section of the CPD website. "It could be a good online resource for people with questions about any number of topics," he said.

Other CPD districts are engaged in similar activity. The 15th District on the West Side held an online, districtwide chat on May 13.

McNaughton's vow to move forward was followed up less than 24 hours later, as the commander announced that the next online, districtwide CAPS meeting will be held from noon to 1:00 p.m. Thursday, June 20. The topic will be gangs, with citizens afforded the opportunity to communicate directly with Eighth District tactical officers.

Instructions on how to register and log in can be found in the SWCP story of May 20.

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