Our Stories, Our World: A community-driven podcast series

Public Safety in Chicago with Vanessa Westley

Episode Summary

In our third episode, we focus on the topic of Public Safety. This episode features retired police officer Vanessa Westley in conversation with Andrea Hernandez, who first met Westley as part of the Chicago Police Department’s Youth District Advisory Council (YDAC). Westley shares a photo from one of the first YDAC leadership sessions: it features a white male police officer (left) seated alongside two young men of color (center and right). They all are all sitting at eye level around the same table, a positioning that Westley sees as an important recognition of the value of all voices in conversations about community safety.

Episode Notes

Retired officer Vanessa Westley spent 25 years working within the Chicago Police Department. She has played an active role in Community Policing initiatives since 2004 and managed the CPD and Metro YMCA’s “Bridging the Divide” program before her work with the Youth District Advisory Councils (YDAC). She also served as project manager for the Mayor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Partnerships. Westley is currently a restorative justice practitioner and trainer. 

Interviewer Andrea Hernandez began serving as a member of YDAC when she was in high school. Now 20 years old, Hernandez is completing college coursework and pursuing plans to work as a Chicago Police Department officer. She credits YDAC for her growth and understanding of the importance of public and community safety.

Watch what happens when the tables are turned on interviewer Andrea Hernandez as she if featured in this news story about her work with YDAC. Young Documentary Filmmakers Working With Chicago Police To Uplift City’s Communities

Music: Malci

Artwork: Dan MacDonald Studios

Audio Producer: Samantha Gattsek

Executive Producers: Mareva Lindo & Elissa Yancey

This podcast is brought to you by Public Narrative and A Picture’s Worth.