Research & Data

Chain Reaction: Alternatives to Calling the Police
In October, Project NIA in collaboration with the Chicago PIC Teaching Collective, launched a new action research project titled Chain Reaction: Alternatives to Calling the Police. Carroll et al (2011) suggest that: "Action research involves people working together in order to democratically and collaboratively produce knowledge that can be used to produce accountable change." 

Chain Reaction is a participatory research and popular education project started with the goal of supporting conversations about alternatives to calling police on young people. When police intervene in situations involving young people, ranging from loitering and petty crimes to violence, police involvement typically sets off a chain of events that can have far-reaching effects on a young person's life.

1. The first stage of Chain Reaction documents these effects from the perspective of young people in Chicago who have had direct encounters with police. Volunteers and peer-to-peer workers will compile video and audio recordings as well as transcribed interviews.

2. The second stage of Chain Reaction involves the creation of digital stories based on young people's interviews. These stories will eventually be available online. We will also host a series of listening sessions to document community responses to hearing these stories.

3. The third stage of Chain Reaction will be to turn our listening sessions into interactive workshops that ask people to reflect upon a set of questions within the context of their own communities:

  • What is the chain reaction that we would ideally like to create in response to fear, violence, or harm?
  • What resources do we already have in our communities to begin this chain reaction?
  • What alternatives to calling police exist for those considering using police interventions with young people?
  • What alternatives would we like to create?

We anticipate that these workshops will be offered to local block clubs, religious institutions, CAPS and other community organizations.

4.The final stage of Chain Reaction will be to create a toolkit so that other interested communities can replicate this project. We will also document what we have learned about the willingness and feasibility of local communities developing true alternatives to involving the police in youth misbehavior.

For more information about Project NIA:

Mariame Kaba