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Abstract

Police misconduct has long been a problem for residents of communities like Chicago’s majority-black South Side, but little research describes how these communities work towards solutions. This paper evaluates strategies that South Side residents use to address misconduct in the Chicago Police Department. These strategies were categorized using the exit, voice, and loyalty framework first proposed by economist Albert O. Hirschman, which describes how individuals respond when they are part of an organization that is in decline. Data was collected from twenty-seven interviews with South Side residents, local community organizers, and legal experts. Findings indicated that while some approaches to resolving the problem of police misconduct were focused on prompting Chicago’s municipal government to reform the police department (voice), many people responded to their experiences with police misconduct by avoiding the police altogether (exit). The paper concludes with a proposal that identifies city government as the root of South Side residents’ dissatisfaction with the Chicago Police Department and lays out a path towards decentralizing the police department to give communities in different parts of the city control of law enforcement in their area.

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