Chicago needs safe streets. As Mayor, I will implement the following plan to improve public safety:
CREATING A STRONGER POLICE PRESENCE
According to published reports, the police department is today undermanned by 2000 police officers (out of 13000 required). This scenario creates a recipe for disaster, as citizens are left in greater danger as well as the remaining officers on the street. Further, a greatly understaffed force decreases morale to unfortunate lows. The mayor needs to immediately address the understaffing issue. The budget for the city cannot be balanced at the expense of public safety. All communities must share in the appropriate staffing level.
To help alleviate both the understaffing and budget issues, I create the Chicago Auxiliary Police Department comprised of retired CPD officers. Although these “reserve” officers have the authority to make arrests and carry weapons, they will be utilized primarily to perform the more mundane policing duties. For example, “reserve officers” can handle booking and normal police station paperwork, freeing up “actively serving full-time” officers to focus on serious crime. Most importantly, “reserve officers” can be hired at a much lower salary since they are already receiving pension payments. Implementing this staffing strategy would strengthen our overall police presence without incurring any additional pension obligations.
INCREASE THE LEVEL OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
In order to foster a stronger relationship between local communities and law enforcement we must bring CAPS and the public schools in a closer partnership. This will maximize the effectiveness of CAPS by bringing officers in direct contact with those most at risk. Shared facilities and resources would allow CAPS to prioritize working to be more effective.
Furthermore, we must revitalize our city’s block clubs. Neighborhoods need to feel more have autonomous over what happens in their own front yards. We can encourage and engage the community to work with CPD by making regular citizens feel empowered and connected.
As Mayor, I would implement a Value Based Policing Initiative to advance community policing through a partnership between CPD and the faith community and community-based social services providers. Faith based mentors can also assist CPD in calming tensions, offering victim assistance, patrolling area hot spots, and working with area youth through their schools and communities. Value based policing can also include a re-entry mentorship program. Mentors can develop a relationship with inmates while they are serving time, and continue to work with them upon their release.
As a Senator I sponsored “Midnight Basketball,” a program that brought youth and law enforcement together for increased support and familiarity. As Mayor, I would expand the Police-resident interaction by holding beat meetings and district advisory committees (DACs). At beat meetings, civilians will have more opportunity to voice their concerns so public opinion could be factored into setting police priorities. A study conducted by Northwestern found that public perception of police improved during the beginning of the CAPs initiative. I believe we can continue this trend by also empowering bi-lingual officers to conduct more community events where English may not be the predominant language. I believe investing in community policing must be a priority.
HIRE A NEW POLICE SUPERINTENDENT
As Mayor, I will increase department morale by appointing a new CPD Superintendent from within the ranks of the department. The new superintendent would be selected after a rigorous process by which 3 qualified individuals would be vetted. Of those three individuals, the mayor will select the most qualified to unite and lead the department.
INCREASE THE PROTECTION OF SENIOR CITIZENS
As mayor, I will direct more law enforcement officers to senior protective services by establishing a special “Senior Citizens Protection Unit” (SCPU) such as the one currently operating within the New York City Police Department. These officers will specialize in cases concerning fraud, abuse, and other areas that put Chicago seniors at risk.
In addition, I will also adopt a Chicago SILVER alert system. Modeled after the AMBER alert, it will be dedicated to, to find missing seniors to provide more protection to seniors and their families. The system will be jointly seen through the Department of Aging, and the SCPU.
Further, as Mayor, I will direct the Police Department to pursue more investigations of crimes perpetrated against seniors and propose enhanced penalties for such offenses.
Also, I will establish a credible Senior Advisory Committee to work with the department to foster a continual dialogue to develop and enhance strategies to protect seniors from violent crimes as well as crimes of deception.
OVERHAUL CHILD SAFETY INVESTIGATIONS AND STRATEGIES
According to police and court reports, roughly every day an attempt is made to abduct Chicago children. Yet from March of 2008 to September of this year, arrests were made in only 90 of these cases. Further, only 7 defendants ended up serving time. Currently neither the city, county, state, nor the federal governments publish statistics on stranger abductions and attempts. Yet of the 530 Cook County cases since 2008, many children avoided abduction by acting smart and fast.
As mayor, I will make it a priority to change the way we missing children cases are investigated from start to finish. I will attack this issue on three fronts. First, I will work with the Youth Investigations section of the Chicago Police Department to overhaul the way missing children investigations are initiated and handled. Specifically, I will make it a priority to see that missing child cases are treated equally and immediately across our city. Far too often, missing children in lower income/high crime areas are initially labeled runaways rather than abductees. For example, Jahmeshia Conner was abducted in December 2009 after leaving her aunt’s house, headed for the bus stop. While police canvassed the area, they did not issue a media alert to generate publicity about Jahmeshia’s disappearance. Sadly, Jahmeshia’s body was found in a nearby alley two weeks later. Autopsy reports showed that she was likely alive for most of that time, leaving questions about whether CPD’s failure to issue a media alert would have changed the outcome.
Secondly, I will also make it a priority to provide the resources necessary to educate our city’s children through a “Staying Safe” initiative within our schools. Students will learn from Police Officers the practical and effective measures to stay safe from attempted abductions, including utilizing the “buddy-system” and how to utilize cell phones in cases of emergencies. A recent study by the Chicago Tribune revealed that on 50 recent cases, about a quarter of the alleged perpetrators used threats or offers of ice cream, candy and money to lure the child into a vehicle or building — but did not pursue youngsters who refused. Further, CPD will create a user-friendly online resource for parents and teachers, where reports of possible abductions and easily navigable sex-offender registries are kept up-to-date.
Equally important, we need to include education in our schools to prevent abductions and crimes committed against children by someone they know. It is common knowledge in the law enforcement community that about 90% of child victims know their offender. Knowledge and resources are the first step in child protection.
Thirdly, I will work closely with the Cook County State’s Attorney, as well as the Illinois State Legislature to fix the excessive legal loopholes which protect predators and endanger our children. To begin, we need a clear and concise legal definition of “luring a child.” Too many offenders avoid prosecution by the ambiguity of the language.
In addition, I will work with law enforcement officers at the city, state, and federal level to institute a clear and accurate statistical representation of attempted-kidnapping and abductions. I believe citizens have a right to know the truth about child safety, and that information will be the best ally for parents and police alike in protecting our youth.
Lastly, I will push to have attempted-kidnapping cases categorized as sex-offences, so offenders will have to register with the sex-offender database. As Mayor, I will stand with parents and the police to ensure a clear and defined legal code which brings predators to justice and protects our children.
WORK TO COMBAT RECIDIVISM
As Mayor, I will take steps to implement a program similar to the successful Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative (MPRI), by which a 3-phase assessment model is utilized to better assess and prepare parolees for success upon release.
Further, I will push measures to increase the rehabilitative aspects of incarceration. The state of Illinois needs to be a partner in working to ensure that ex-offenders are given opportunities to not become repeat offenders.
In addition, I will push for an annual state tax credit of up to $10,000 for each ex-offender a business hires for up to three years. This policy has shown to create jobs and reduce crime elsewhere. (Detroit – Mayor Nutter).
STREAMLINE PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION SERVICES
As Mayor, I will consolidate the delivery of gang prevention and intervention services to creating clear lines of oversight, accountability and performance measures.
Intervention at the neighborhood level will be handled by trained intervention workers. They will be individuals whose personal experience with gang life provides them credibility in these targeted communities. Working in teams, intervention workers have three primary functions:
(1) Violence interruption
(2) Proactive peacemaking – establishing “ceasefire” agreements, quelling rumors that fan the flames of gang violence, mediating conflicts between rival gangs before they escalate
(3) Outreach with incarcerated gang members immediately before and after their release – to prevent them from returning to gang life during the first 24 hours after reentry, when they are most likely to fall back into activities of gang crime.
CREATE THE “CHICAGO SUMMER NIGHT LIGHTS” PROGRAM
Similar to the program initiated by Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, the Chicago Summer Night Lights program will take action to combat gang violence during the traditionally most-violent summer months. Chicago Summer Night Lights will be an anti-gang initiative that will keep parks open after dark with organized activities for at risk youth, and also create job opportunities and safe places to spend the summer.
Further, Summer Night Lights will target park facilities in the City’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development zones to provide expanded programming, after-school activities, athletic leagues, art initiatives, and family programs.
As Mayor, I will work with the Chicago Park District to find creative ways of reallocating resources to make Chicago Summer Night Lights cost efficient. I will push to restructure personnel hours by staggering the time that facilities are staffed. By prioritizing this issue and budgeting accordingly, I will work with the Park District to implement this collaborative management, safety and crime fighting effort.
Los Angeles found the expanded programming for youth and families offered through the Night Lights initiative resulted in a 17% drop in violent gang related crime and an 86% reduction in gang related homicides, helping to secure the City’s safest summer since 1967.