Vallas releases comprehensive Public Safety Strategy for Chicago
Calls for the Return of Public Safety as a ‘Basic Human Right’ for Chicagoans
Paul Vallas will return the Chicago Police Department to its core mission to serve and protect the people of Chicago by prioritizing public safety as a human right by making crime in Chicago illegal again.
Our tendency to focus on what divides us overlooks and undervalues what we have in common. Everyone, in every part of the city, from every demographic and constituency wants (i) to be safe, (ii) economic opportunity, and (iii) an environment that promotes personal well-being and growth for themselves, their children, their family, and their community.
Government’s core job is to ensure the conditions that promote all three for all people equally. A city where no one feels safe is one in which people venture out only out of necessity and instead shelter in place, leaving our streets to criminals.
The great urban ethnographer Jane Jacobs noted that the biggest factor in the safety of city streets is how many people are out and about. Empty streets make the individual prey. Bustling streets make the criminal the subject of eyes and ears that lower opportunities for and raise the consequential risk of criminal malfeasance. The Loop is desolate. No surprise it is the locus of unheard-of levels of violent and property crime.
One of the first orders of serving and protecting therefore must be to reclaim our geography by making it safe for all.
Perception is reality and right now the broad perception is that we are a city under siege from pervasive but seemingly random, opportunistic criminal mayhem. There is ample justification for that perception because the data tell us it is the objective reality:
• Violent crime is up again this year by 41%.
• Chicago will close 2022 with more than 700 murders for the third straight year. The Lightfoot Administration’s touting of a “drop” in murders and shootings between 2021 and 2022 is an attempt to distract us from our larger lived experience — they remain horrifically and unacceptably high, down only in comparison to highs that have not been seen in 30 years and since the start of this Administration in 2019:
• Murders and shootings are in fact up 33% and 36% respectively
• Almost 200 school age children — 17 years and younger — have been murdered since 2019 including 65 this year alone.
• Chicago leads the nation with one in nine of the nation’s mass shootings since 2019, including 48 this year
• In the Loop alone there have been more than 35 shootings this year compared to 2 in 2019 and 19 murders in the 1st District compared to 7 last year
• Crime on public transportation is at its highest per capita ever
• The terrifying scourge of carjackings has skyrocketed since 2019 and remains near historic highs. Meanwhile, car thefts — second degree carjackings in my view will reach 22,000 this year, double last year, and are now averaging a mind boggling 100 per day.
• ARMED robberies are rampant across the city with 65 incidents in the last week, including instances of robbers’ pistol-whipping women for amusement.
Our city has been surrendered to a rogue element who act with seeming impunity in treating unsuspecting, innocent people as prey. The data also suggest that their confidence that consequences for their criminality are unlikely is correct. Again, the cold hard numbers:
• Fewer than one in six murders result in actual arrests
• Fewer than one in twenty shootings in which the victim survives result in arrests
• Fewer than one in ten arrests for other violent crimes result in arrest
• For more than half of the high priority 911 calls last year — over 400,000, including over 32 thousand assaults and batteries — CPD did not have a car available to respond in real time
Dating back long before I announced my run for mayor, I have been critical in articles and speeches of the States Attorney and Cook County judges for their failure to enforce the law in ways that signal a system of accountability for criminals and safety for us all, and most of all the victims of these crimes who know that most perpetrators remain free and lurking in their midst. But the reality is that prosecutions start with arrests and charges. But even as violent crime is up 41% this year alone, arrests are down almost 80% since 2019.
Our current state of affairs is the direct consequence of a wholesale failure of competent leadership and public administration needed to prioritize providing police with the strategy, staffing, resources, and support needed for effective collaborative, community-informed policing. Policing that
• Prioritizes service to and protection of the people of the city
• Recognizes personal well-being starts with personal safety
• Recognizes healthy communities cannot develop and thrive in an environment of fear and trauma
• Understands that the pursuit of economic, social and cultural opportunity and enrichment requires the freedom to move about all parts of this great city without inhibition or constraint
That all starts with public safety, which I regard and will treat as a basic human right for each and every Chicagoan.
I am therefore again calling for and pledge the following:
• The immediate dismissal of the absentee Superintendent David Brown and his senior leadership team. I will do so on the first day as mayor and will appoint a new interim Superintendent and assemble a leadership team from among the ranks. Accomplished Officers who know and have the support of the rank and file.
• Slam the door shut on the demoralizing, delegitimizing, and mediocrity-inducing “Friends and Family” system of promotions — so-called “merit” promotions – based on who you know. No more failing up. Promotion to leadership must be based on objective performance criteria, demonstrated competencies, and training and experienced based expertise. In other words, making merit promotion merit based again.
• Rebuild sworn officer staffing from the current 11,710 to the fully appropriated 13,300 level that existed at the end of the Emanuel Administration.
• Rebuild the detective ranks to 10% overall staffing and supplement the Detectives Divisions with retired Police officers to provide support in order to do two things: 1) raise true clearance rates — those that provide a foundation for successful prosecutions and (2) assure that witnesses and victims are protected. The victim/witness detective relationships are critical to successful prosecutions.
• Support the return to a community policing strategy that former Interim Superintendent Charlie Beck directed based on his successful, proven model in Los Angeles which simultaneously lowered that city’s crime rates while instituting holistic reforms under a federal Consent Decree, but which David Brown inexplicably and with devastating effect dismantled immediately upon arrival in April 2020. That community policing strategy would prioritize local beat integrity and ensure an available police car for every police beat. It would include the restoration of “Area Support Teams” to support local District Commanders. And these localized strategies would be devised to collaboratively marshal the knowledge, insights and in some ways, priorities of the communities served.
• Create a real well-resourced CTA Police Transit Unit under the command of the equivalent to a District Commander and use the monies spent for private security on the CTA to hire CPD Officers. The $100 million spent this year could have paid for almost 700 police officers. The goal will be to ensure that every CTA station and platform has a Police presence and that uniform and undercover officers are riding the trains. All with the power to fully enforce city ordinances. I will work to make the CTA a Safe Passage Zone. The CTA is the aorta of Chicago’s economic and cultural heart, whether as the connection from home to school for students in the city, from home to jobs for residents citywide, and especially those in historically underserved communities, or for the business traveler and cultural tourist to and from O’Hare and Midway to Downtown. With the same, successfully operationalized philosophy used for our school children, I will work to make the CTA a Safe Passage Zone.
• I will use the office of the Mayor to immediately convene an intergovernmental summit consisting of city, sister agency and County bodies to fashion integrated solutions to the rampant crisis of unprecedented levels of crime. However, at the same time resurrect the Law Department Municipal Prosecution Unit and enact a robust Public Nuisance ordinance with an enforcement and prosecution focus on misdemeanors by recalcitrant, recidivist who disturb the public peace and threaten or do harm to witnesses, victims and communities to address the criminal justice and public safety voids left by a lax and lenient States Attorney and court system with whom I hope to collaborate but from whom I will not accept lesser outcomes that the power
How will the Human Resources of the department be rebuilt! The replacement of Brown and his leadership team, the ending of the friends and family promotions, the restoration of a normal work schedule and a supportive Mayor’s Office will help slow retirements and transfers to other police districts. It will also help recruitment. However there are a number of actions that will rapidly rebuild both CPD strength and experience.
⁃ Recruit directly on military bases as well as from other police districts while removing the obstacles for experience and distinguished officers from quickly being hired
⁃ Suspend residency requirements for new recruits until they have successfully passed through the academy and their probationary period and waive the requirement for officers in good standing with 15 years or more of seniority.
⁃ Inviting officers who have left over the last three years to return to CPD with no loss in seniority from the day they left
⁃ Invite retired police officers to return to the department with priority given to hiring officers with investigatory experience to work as analysts to help detectives clear cases and the help protect witnesses and victims.
⁃ Consistent with the Consent Decree recalibrate the background check process that, as the Office of Inspector General has publicly documented, screens out too many quality applicants from the community simply because of the associations that come from where they were raised. This disqualifies many who come from and best know the communities they want to serve.
⁃ Creating a CPD Reserve of the hundreds of former Police Officers who left the force to become City Firefighters or hold other jobs, who could be recertified and qualified to be activated to cover shortages, special events, emergencies, or temporary assignments for CTA hotspots.
This strategy will quickly restore and enhance the CPD’s ability to keep all communities safe. It will give the Department the ability to Police both proactively and constitutionally. With all (and even just some) of these measures in place, I will use the powers of the office of the mayor and the immense tax-payer resources already in hand to restore the proactive policing needed to keep all communities face. We will make crime in Chicago illegal again.
For further inquiry, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-330-1566
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