It was the shootings, break-ins and wild behavior of squatters who occupied a vacant house on her block that drove Delores Stokes to start attending her district's Community Alternative Policing Strategy meetings.
But after sitting through an hour of talking, lecturing and complaining, the West Garfield Park woman left the gathering feeling frustrated, and decided not to attend again.
"Do you know what connects me to the police? The alarm system on my house," said Stokes, 55, adding that she doesn't know any of her local officers personally. "I don't know them. I don't know why crime isn't being addressed. I don't how crime is being addressed.
"Maybe it's that the community doesn't know what their plan is ... if they have a plan."
Shootings and slayings continue to plague Chicago, even after Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said they would restructure the city's long-standing CAPS program to better combat violence.
January started off violently, with 42 homicides -- the highest number for that month since 2002, police statistics show. But violence has waned some, with 54 homicides for 2013 as of Feb. 20, compared with 52 by that date last year.
The effort to remake CAPS may sound familiar to Chicagoans -- police and city officials have for years pushed and pulled back on the program, which some experts say has never proven to be effective at fighting crime.
When it was conceived, the CAPS program was to fight crime by partnering police officers with concerned residents. The idea was that residents would get to know their local beat facilitators and feel more comfortable reporting crime and working with police to secure vacant buildings, punish irresponsible landlords and push troublemakers off corners.
But in the nearly 20 years that it's been around, the project has proven a mixed bag, both praised and harshly criticized. Some have said CAPS helped bridge a gap between police officers and residents in some Chicago communities. Others say the program is ineffective and provides a forum for complaining, but little else.
"Nobody has been able to determine (CAPS') effectiveness," said Robert Lombardo, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Loyola University who studied the program. "The research has been sketchy.
"The broad question is 'Can CAPS reduce crime?' The school is still out on that," he said.
Throughout the tenure of CAPS, Chicago officials have touted it as a valuable part of crime-fighting strategy. But at times, while saying the program was of value, officials have shifted the focus away from the program and redirected funding.
In 2008, a time when homicides in Chicago were outpacing those in bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles, former Mayor Richard Daley slashed $1.5 million from the CAPS implementation office's $5 million budget. And in 2010, then police Superintendent Jody Weis took heat for reassigning some CAPS officers from administrative positions to street duty.
Most recently, McCarthy announced he is changing the way his office will run the program. Now police district commanders will be in charge of tailoring CAPS to fit their communities, McCarthy said. Until this year, the program was run from police headquarters.
"We realized over the years, the community engagement has waned," said police Chief of Patrol Joe Patterson, who helps oversee the program. "There has been a decrease in participation at beat meetings ... we're trying to reinvigorate CAPS and get more residents on board with us. With the community's help, we can reduce crime."
Along with allowing commanders to revamp the programs to their needs, authorities plan to change how they will evaluate whether the program is working. But just how those evaluations will work is still being developed, officials said.
"I wouldn't say accountability was lacking in the past," Patterson said. "It was managed in a different way."