Determining the program's effectiveness is "an interesting challenge," Patterson said. "There is no barometer to measure community engagement. We can't base it solely on an increase of beat meeting attendance. ... The independent stories from the citizens of the community being better ... that is our overall measure of success."
Although Emanuel has said the CAPS program was "bogged down by bureaucracy," there is reason to continue to use it, experts say. In some communities, the CAPS program has helped change how residents relate to police and resulted in good public relations.
"People felt they got access to the police," Lombardo said. "It also helped police by reminding them that they need to be integrated with the community. Community policing raised the idea that not only are you crime fighters, but you are a part of the community and you need to communicate with them."
One major problem with CAPS was that it was administered differently in various neighborhoods, studies of the program show. In some communities, there were meetings where police would primarily make announcements, a report by the Chicago Community Policing Evaluation Consortium showed. In other meetings, however, the officers were able to bond with residents and develop strategies to stamp out crime.
In Ukrainian Village, for example, residents banded together with their CAPS facilitator after a spate of attempted break-ins and robberies last year.
Steve Niketopoulos, 35, used social media to build a network of neighbors who watch each other's houses, call the police when they see something suspicious and gather for meetings where they learn what to do when they see something wrong in their community. Not all of the residents can make the monthly beat meetings, but about 1,250 of them stay in touch using a private Facebook page.
"There still is a lot of crime, but we all know what's going on," Niketopoulos said. "People have been learning ... how to barricade their door, burglar-proof their windows. When people talk about, 'The back of my building was broken into,' it will go into a discussion about lighting in the back."
But in Steve Casey's Englewood community, the CAPS officers were not as engaged, he said, even when residents wanted to be a part of the solution.
"I know what CAPS is supposed to do, and I know places where the system has worked," said Casey, 46. "But in Englewood, something just went awry. We never could turn the corner."
Casey, who has lived in Englewood for 12 years, said he went to CAPS meetings for at least six or seven years. There were times at the public meeting where residents stood and told officers specifically where they saw gang activity and open-air drug markets, Casey said. When he noticed the officers weren't taking notes or recording the information, he felt the issues weren't being taken seriously. And like many others, he stopped going to the monthly gatherings.
"It seemed like a dog and pony show," he said. "I go to a meeting. I'm giving you data. When they don't take notes, don't ask questions, it gives me less and less confidence that (police) are going to address the problem."
In Corey Howard's Woodlawn neighborhood, residents pack the monthly CAPS meeting. But even in the safety of the police precinct, there is fear, Howard said.
"I can't speak about the whole city," Howard said. "But in our district, people in the community don't get to talk. We sit and (an officer) tells us the numbers of arrests and adjourns the meeting."
Last summer, dozens of Howard's neighbors attended the monthly meeting and interrupted the agenda to beg police officials to help put an end to neighborhood shooting. Even as they spoke out, however, many said they were afraid to return home because of possible retaliation.
"We're constantly complaining about the same addresses," said Howard, 39. "I've been going for five years, and we say the same thing over and over."
Valerie Leonard, 49, went to a few CAPS meetings in her North Lawndale neighborhood but complains they are more like venting sessions.