On the Issues

Public Safety

PUBLIC SAFETY AFFECTS EVERY CHICAGOAN

An average of 12 shootings per day. Innocent bystanders getting caught in the crossfire. Innocent children dying.

While we don’t lead in the “per-capita” category, our reputation is hurting everywhere.

Chicagoans know that this is not the character of our city. We know we are better than this. Now, it is time to show it.

There is literally no higher priority for the next mayor of Chicago, than to address public safety in our communities. In order to achieve real change on this challenge, we’ll first need to confront some hard facts.

It starts with law enforcement. Gery believes that police can only do their jobs if the community has faith in them. Without that faith – neighbors don’t report crimes, they don’t call with tips and they don’t identify who the gang members are that are destroying too many neighborhoods.

Gery believes that the vast majority of police are honest and decent professionals with incredibly hard jobs. They put their own lives at risk to protect ours. But it only takes a few bad cops that aren’t punished for committing horrible acts to shake the community’s faith in the police.

That is why Gery believes that the first of many steps to ending the cycle of violence in our communities is to restore trust with the police. To do so, we must fire Eddie Johnson. There is overwhelming evidence that as a sergeant, district commander, and as superintendent, Johnson has personally blocked or turned a blind eye when police officers clearly broke department procedure, broke the law and broke the community’s trust. And with a homicide clearance rate less than half the national average, Johnson has failed at his job.

After that first step, Gery will be initiating a Mayor’s Office of Violence Prevention and Reduction. He will appoint a Director of Public Safety, which will be a cabinet-level position reporting directly to the mayor. The Director of Public Safety will oversee the city’s public safety strategy in partnership with CPD, the Police Superintendent, federal authorities, city agencies, community groups and other stakeholders. The Director will also identify and advocate for city investment in empowerment programs that target individuals who are most at-risk to be involved in violent crime. Gery is fully prepared to invest in promising anti-violence programs on the front end – in order to save thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars over the long term.

Gery has mapped out a thoughtful and holistic plan to make our communities safer and stronger.

 

Restoring Community Trust In Law Enforcement

Gery believes the vast majority of cops are good people doing an extremely challenging job. But police shootings of Laquan McDonald, Reika Boyd, Christian Green and too many others have shaken our community’s trust in the police. Gery was instrumental in bringing Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) to Chicago, which changed the way we do policing from a reactive “answer calls method” to a proactive one with neighbors and police working together to keep communities safe. To restore trust, Gery will focus on:

  • Firing Eddie Johnson as Superintendent of CPD.
  • Reinvigorating the CAPS program which has had millions slashed from its budget. Gery will invest in this program that is instrumental in creating a bond between local police and the communities they serve.
  • Fully complying with and funding the Justice Department Consent Decree and codifying it into city ordinance. Recruiting new police officers that reflect their community.
  • Requiring 75 hours of annual training on topics such as de-escalation techniques, mental health, spotting troubled officers, use of tasers and implicit bias.
  • Reforming the Gang Database – which has over 128,000 names – by verifying that it is in accordance with professionally accepted standards and regularly auditing it to ensure it is free from racial discrimination. 

Getting Tough On Gun Crime

Gery believes that the criminal justice system must become far more aggressive in taking guns, gang members and violent offenders off our streets. Furthermore, Gery believes that to the only way to truly limit the number of guns flowing into Chicago, we need to work with Indiana and Wisconsin  or sue them to get them to enforce their gun laws. To get tough on gun crime, Gery will focus on:

  • Creating a CPD Deputy Superintendent for Gun Violence Prevention whose officers are specifically trained to hunt down illegal guns and take them off our streets permanently. The Deputy Supt. will create and coordinate a gun violence strategy with state and federal prosecutors to curb gun violence and tackle the flow of illegal guns.
  • Working with legislators in Springfield to ensure that anyone who commits a gun crime goes to prison for at least three years.
  • Pushing legislation in Springfield that requires gun dealers to safely store firearms, and make copies of FOID cards or IDs and attach them to documentation detailing each gun sale. New legislation should also require dealers to open their places of business for inspection by state and local police.
  • Ending the moral wrong under Governor Rauner where the state crime lab is sitting on nearly 2,100 rape kits as well as DNA testing from murders dating back to 2014, by working with legislators to fund the crime lab.
  • Penalizing gun owners who do not report their guns as lost or stolen within 24 hours of becoming aware of this fact and requiring them to face civil or possibly criminal misdemeanor penalties if a gun registered to them is used in a crime.
  • Passing a city ordinance requiring safe storage of guns and ammunition.
  • Suing the state of Indiana and Wisconsin for its failure to enforce its own gun laws.


Ending The Pipeline To Prison

Gery believes that we need to keep nonviolent offenders out of jail. Incarcerating people is costly and it does little to stop them from committing crimes; 45% of offenders return to jail within three years. We need to institute a practice of deferring prosecution for minor, non-violent crimes on the conditions of schooling, community service, and no further confrontations with the law. Also, we need a robust economic plan to help our struggling neighborhoods and citizens.

Gery will also invest in and strengthen programs that are geared toward changing the lives of the young men who are most at-risk. He has fueled these efforts in the past and seen the results. Gery will back new initiatives that target – through the use of scientific data and proven practices – those individuals who are most likely to be involved in violent crime. No child is born with an instinct to grip a gun and pull the trigger. These are real human beings, and many of them will take advantage of opportunities to change their lives. We know this, which is why Chicago must invest in and augment the programs that already exist and have shown signs of real results.

To end the pipeline to prison, Gery will focus on:

  • Putting non-violent drug users in treatment rather than jail.
  • Investing in community mental health services to help those most at risk of committing crimes to get back on track.
  • Growing partnerships with empowerment programs such as READI Chicago and Chicago CRED. READI works with the University of Chicago Crime Lab and six gang and street-level community outreach programs to do targeted outreach and direct service to men who are causing and impacted by gun violence. READI’s combination of direct engagement, cognitive behavioral therapy and job placement has already shown enormous potential. (More on READI Here) Similarly, Chicago CRED works with CARA and other local businesses to employ young men and to map out sustainable career paths.
  • Developing and strengthening programs that push parents to teach young boys and girls about personal responsibility and doing the right thing.
  • Increasing funding for city and sister agency programs that assist returning citizens (such as the CTA’s Second Chance program).
  • Working with Chicago employers to hire ex-offenders so they can support their families without returning to crime.
  • Providing trauma experts and more school counselors in Chicago’s highest crime neighborhoods.
  • Increasing the funding and reach of Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man and Working on Womanhood programs that focus on mentoring kids in high-crime neighborhoods.
  • Expanding the city’s One Summer Chicago program to provide more kids with vital work experience and keep the off the streets.
  • Strengthening partnerships with the Cook County Sheriff’s RENEW Program – Restoring Neighborhoods Workforce.
  • Creating a partnership with A Safe Haven Foundation to further assist ex-offenders. 

Strengthening The Police Department

Gery believes strongly that the Chicago Police Department is made up of some of our city’s finest residents. No job is harder and there is no one we ask more of than the men and women in blue. But in Chicago, politics has gotten in officers’ way far too often and caused limited resources to be misdirected. To enhance our police department, Gery will focus on:

  • Promoting/hiring 300 detectives to get our the detective division back to its full strength of 1,200 detectives – as well as doubling the number of forensic experts.
  • Creating a Deputy Superintendent for Gun Violence Prevention whose officers are specifically trained to hunt down illegal guns and take them off our streets permanently. The Deputy Supt. will create and coordinate a gun violence strategy with state and federal prosecutors to curb gun violence and tackle the flow of illegal guns.
  • Hiring a Special Liaison to work with The United States Attorney’s Office and Cook County State’s Attorney to coordinate on a city-wide plan for prosecuting offenders.
  • Expanding the capacity of the current Social Media Monitoring Programs.
  • Utilizing in all police districts the partnership with the University of Chicago Crime Lab that created Strategic Decision Support Centers which bring together police officers and analysts from the Crime Lab to integrate crime intelligence, data analysis and technology.
  • Harnessing technology to lower crime through better coordination of ShotSpotter and existing cameras as well as upgrading cameras with the capacity to read license plates.
  • Making mental health assistance available to Chicago police officers, officers can choose to visit a third party provider of their choice.

Gery believes that implementing these changes will begin the process of moving Chicago in the right direction on Public Safety.  Gery knows that we can make Chicago Safer, Stronger, Together.