Chicago Needs A Citizen Headed Office in Each Police District to Address Public Safety Matters and Relations between police and community, Former Police Officer Richard Wooten Says 

January 21, 2019
For Immediate Release
Jerry Thomas
(312) 285-5166


Chicago Needs A Citizen Headed Office in Each Police District to Address Public Safety Matters and Relations between police and community, Former Police Officer Richard Wooten Says

Wooten Says the office is needed to improve eroding relations between Police and Community following the tragic death of Laquan McDonald and trial of Former Officer Jason Van Dyke

CHICAGO –  Former longtime Chicago Police Officer Richard Wooten, who has become a leading advocate for improved relations between police and community, today called for the city to establish an office in each police district, headed by a civilian and independent of police, to address concerns about public safety and to improve relations between police and community.

Wooten, founder and president of Gathering Point Community Council, a South Side organization that has been on the forefront of calling for police reform and training citizens to reclaim their streets from criminals, said such a buffer is needed to address eroding relations between police and community, which has continued to decline in the aftermath of the sentencing of former CPD officer Jason Van Dyke. Today, a judge sentenced Van Dyke to 81 months for fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. The tragedy garnered international attention after a video showed Van Dyke shooting Laquan 16 times as he walked away from the scene.

“At this moment, the community needs a buffer between police and the community,” said Wooten, who is a candidate for alderman of the Sixth Ward. “We have to have someone who feels the pain of the community, but understands how the police department operates, and knows how to blend the two sides and rebuild the trust. We have to improve communications on both sides, and the police commanders have to be seen in the community. If they become more visible, they can rebuild the relationship with the people and the community would be able to digest what is really going on.”

From the citizens’ side, Wooten said the residents are educated, but not well informed.

They feel they have to accept what is going on, and this is where the independent office can make all the difference,” Wooten said.

Wooten said this office needs to be established immediately with the next mayor.

“The next mayor cannot procrastinate about this need when public safety and tensions are at the core of all the ills in our community and is driving people to abandon the city for safer and more prosperous communities,” he said.

The reality, Wooten said, is that most citizens don’t want to go to a police department to address public safety matters.

“They want to go to someone they can talk to, who in return will actually make sure they get the services they need by communicating with the police department and getting the police department to become more engaged and involved,” Wooten said. “The buffer or intercessor will invite the police department to community meetings, so the residents can get a clear understanding of what is really going on in the community, and the police can get a better understanding of the services needed.”

As for the Van Dyke sentence of 6 ¾ years, Wooten said he is disappointed that Van Dyke received a light sentence.

“Justice is holding police to a higher standard,” Wooten said. “We(police) are out here because we are held at a higher standard. We are actual scrutinized more than the average person, because we should know better, and because so much authority is placed in our hands. We have the right to kill, but it has to be justified because we actually have that much power in our  hands. Van Dyke should have been held accountable for what he did.”

Wooten added that current Six Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer should also be held accountable for his role in trying to cover up the Van Dyke shooting but supporting the decision to provide “hush money” to the McDonald family to keep the details of the controversial shooting private.

“Once again, Sawyer put politics before the will of the people,” Wooten said. “He is the head of the Black Caucus, but did not have the courage to do what is right. He was Rahm man and the mayor rewarded him for his loyalty. Now, the Sixth Ward residents see why little has changed over the past seven years.”


For additional information on Richard Wooten, visit To arrange an interview with Richard Wooten, contact Jerry Thomas at, or call (312) – 285-5166.