Police Commander Watson talks about handling crime in the 3rd District

Third District Commander Roderick Watson is committed to including the community in the crime prevention strategy with Together We Can. Photo courtesy of Chicago Police Department
Third District Commander Roderick Watson is committed to including the community in the crime prevention strategy with Together We Can. Photo courtesy of Chicago Police Department

Police Commander Watson talks about handling crime in the 3rd District

Roderick Watson has been Commander of the 3rd District since
December 2020. In that time, he has developed a strategy, Together We Can, a holistic approach to handling crime in the District, which encompasses Woodlawn, South Shore and Greater Grand Crossing.
Commander Watson’s father was an officer and retired as a sergeant.

Commander Watson, never saw himself becoming an officer, he wanted to be a lawyer. His father encouraged him to become a police officer and he could finish law school and re-take the LSATs.

“Then, you look up, here I am. I’m still on the job, I never re-took
the LSAT, Even though I, might not myself wanted to become a policeman, I believe this is something God has said, ‘this was what I ordained for you,’” he said.

Faith plays a huge role in Watson’s life and the way he does his job. Watson said his faith is his foundation. At the front desk of the District, the verse Matthew 5:13 is displayed on a banner.

“As I start a closer walk with God in my life, He’s opening doors and
actually showing me, this is why he put me here, to let my light so shine before man that they may see my good deeds and glorify my father who is in Heaven.” He added he believes God is what is missing in the streets. 

Watson said he works with churches in the 3rd District and believes the churches active involvement in the community is imperative.

Throughout the years, Watson was part of the Tactical, Narcotics and
Gang Units. He learned that there is only a small percentage of people who are driving the violence in the community.

“With those investigations, it helped me to formulate my own way of working, as far as tackling crime, having a more focused approach and actually targeting those particular individuals that are actually driving the violence, versus more broad brush, instead of policing the whole community,” he said.

Watson said he loves the 3rd District. He said the community is really
interested in helping and figuring out how they can assist law enforcement. He has tried to develop a strategy that includes the community when it come to a crime prevention strategy.

“The majority of the community is very supportive of the police. What I see with them is they come out with us, and they show that they appreciate our efforts, asking us what they can do. They’re not afraid of saying, we love you guys, we want you guys here,” he said. The majority of the community would like for law enforcement to
become a part of the community, to police differently, which is including the community and letting them be actively involved.

Watson said there shouldn’t be an us vs. them, when it comes to community and law enforcement. He said having an officer who lives in the community should be viewed as a benefit to that community. He said it enables an officer who lives in the community to understand what is going on in the community and how law
enforcement can help the community.

“Yes, we’re serving and protecting but we should also have a role in
which we are working together, and we have a relationship. As I’m walking through the community, I should know your first name. We should be working collectively together, we should have that trust and understand that everyone in the community is not a part of the problem, they can also be part of the solution,” he said.

Watson said with Together We Can, it is the holistic approach to crime in the 3rd District communities. He said within the five percent of individuals who are driving the crime in the community,
three percent need resources and help to turn their lives around and make them productive citizen. He added, only two percent might
need to be locked up. With Together We Can, Watson is looking to do a program for Returning Citizens to help reform them and they can be productive and not venture back into past lifestyle.

Together We Can is comprised of community activists, community
organizations and clergy, like Sunshine Gospel Ministries. During their Friday meetings, they talk about the crime in the community, and they produce deliverables on how to address the crime. They also look at resources and how to include them in the strategy. There also are Real Men Talk and Real Women Talk series to tear down the walls that divide people and allow for restorative justice. Watson said a lot of the issues going on in the 3rd District is a lot of factors that affect the crime and violence. He said issues of mental health, resources and jobs are a factor.

“Commander Watson said, just locking you up is never going to be
the complete answer. I must figure out ways in which we can try to help the community with social means.” “If I can help facilitate resources and If it takes me as a Commander I will work with the community to bring everyone to the table and have those real conversations about what we can do to take back the community.
I believe within my District; I can help facilitate that and that’s why I’m
working together with the community to try and address some of those concerns.”

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