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CLA Fellow Lieutenant Mark Sedevic Works to Strengthen Community Trust for Chicago Police

Jul 22, 2018

By Dan Weissman

Mark Sedevic is a police lieutenant in Chicago's 7th District, which serves the South Side Englewood neighborhood—long perceived as a center of the city’s violent crime. He used his Civic Leadership Academy capstone to extend his work towards a long-standing ambition: building trust between community and police.  

Sedevic views community-building as vital to police work. “People are going to respect you more,” he said. “They’re going to trust you more because you’ve built those relationships.” However, he acknowledges, that work “can be tough to quantify.” 

During his CLA fellowship, Sedevic designed a pair of surveys that could be used to measure trust. Although qualities like trust are difficult to measure in absolute terms, he hopes that by collecting longitudinal data—administering surveys multiple times over a period of years—that trends could be discerned: Is trust rising or falling over time?

Sedevic credits William Howell, Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and a professor in the Department of Political Science and the College, with helping him refine the project. “He helped me narrow my scope into more focus into what I really wanted to do,” said Sedevic. “It was still a big, grandiose project, but I think it might have been even bigger before.”

"Mark’s commitment to police work and our city is palpable,” said Howell. “All of us in CLA benefited from his insights into the complex challenges of civic leadership and social change."

Police brass in Chicago have expressed interest in using the survey across the city— Sedevic is waiting to see whether it will be implemented locally.

Meanwhile, he published a write up in 9-1-1, a magazine for first responders, and in August he received an inquiry from a consultant hoping to use the survey as a part of a training in other cities. 

Sedevic also says the connections he formed through CLA have already started to pay off at the neighborhood level—at least for a young man Sedevic met through his volunteer work at Crushers, a neighborhood youth-development program that operates from a local boxing gym.

Sedevic describes the 19-year-old as a “good kid” who, a year out from high school wasn't really having a lot of luck getting jobs.

With a call to his CLA classmate Theresa Gibbons, at the Heartland Alliance, Sedevic got the young man a spot in a job-training program. “I didn't have that connection before,” said Sedevic. “I didn't know who could help this kid get a job.”

Sedevic thinks more connections could emerge. 

“I find these kids out here,” Sedevic said. “They don't have a heck of a whole lot. I'm not just talking about finances. Some of them don't have parents. Some of them are struggling day-to-day with death, loss, violence. So having those connections to help these kids, I think, is invaluable.”