UIC Police demonstrate support for the community
UIC Police recently participated in two initiatives designed to strengthen relationships between the university and its surrounding community. Coordinated by the department’s Police Advancing Community Engagement (P.A.C.E.) unit, these programs delivered a variety of much-needed support to local organizations as well as some holiday cheer.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on everyone, the department learned that it has also caused an increase in domestic violence. Consider the following information provided by The Network, a collaborative membership organization dedicated to improving the lives of those impacted by domestic violence through programs like its Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, educational outreach, and emergency COVID-19 financial support:
- Texts to the hotline have increased by 2000%.
- Calls to the hotline have increased by 15%.
- The need for crisis housing for those impacted by domestic violence significantly increased when shelter in place orders were lifted.
“While home is a safe place for most of us, for others, it is the last place they want to be,” said UIC Police Sgt. Terry Williams. “Add in the financial and emotional stress caused by COVID-19, lockdowns and curfews, increased isolation of family members, and children who are now learning from home, and you can see how any of these things can take a toll.”
With this information in hand, UIC Police wanted to do more than just respond to domestic violence assistance calls and spent the fall collecting a variety of items most needed by domestic violence shelters. Members of the police department, including sworn officers, dispatchers, hospital security, and civilian staff and community partners collectively gathered soap, shampoo, and feminine hygiene items, educational items and activities for children, coloring books and crayons, and more, which they delivered to The Network for distribution to more than 30 other organizations throughout Illinois that serve those affected by domestic violence.
UIC Police also collaborated with its community partner, Connecting4Communities, to support its neighborhood school, John M. Smyth Elementary. In previous years, department members donated toys to the school as part of its Secret Santa program. However, due to the pandemic this year, it provided the entire fourth-grade cohort of 51 students with $25 gift cards. When a financial surplus remained after purchasing the gift cards, the department worked with the school to identify two families most in need and provided them with $100 gift cards.
“Our collaboration with Connecting4Communities allowed us to positively impact more than 300 school families during a very different type of holiday season,” Williams said.
“We are very proud of the overwhelming response we received for both this program and our domestic violence initiative and look forward to continuing to strengthen the bonds between our department, UIC, and the surrounding community.”