Chicago mayoral candidate and former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot held a press conference this morning to unveil a public safety plan to meaningfully reduce violence and build trust between police and communities. The press conference was held at Build, Inc. and streamed live on Facebook. The full policy is available on the campaign website here.
“This election is about public safety,” said Lightfoot at the press conference. “It’s about anger at the lack of progress on issues of violence and police reform, about the trauma that exists in our neighborhoods, the fear that no one has a plan—and also about hope that maybe the next four years can be different than the last four decades.
“In this election, Chicagoans are looking for a leader with the experience and vision to substantively address this critical issue. Of all of the candidates in the race—a race that is, above all else, about public safety—I am the only candidate who can take on the great challenge the lies ahead. We must have a 21st century police department to take on the violence and bring peace to our neighborhoods.”
“Lori Lightfoot’s strategy for public safety in every neighborhood has to be one of the most comprehensive, inclusive, and well-thought-out public safety plans I have ever had the opportunity to review,” said Cedric Alexander, former President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and member of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. “The plan is very 21st century, incorporating not just police and communities, but all of government, the private sector, and everyone who has a stake in moving Chicago ahead.
“The social issues facing many communities in Chicago are of grave concern, not just to local residents but to the entire city and country. With Lori Lightfoot’s leadership, this plan will lead the way to moving communities in distress ahead, and serve as a role model to many other communities across the country to move our nation ahead.”
The plan addresses both urgent challenges and systemic issues to provide the resources, expertise, and attention needed to meaningfully reduce violence and build trust between police and our communities.
Urgent reforms are needed to show near term results. These include:
– Addressing violence as a public health crisis: Violence is a symptom of communities in distress—communities where many face poverty and unemployment, lack easy access to resources including food and healthcare, and experience deep and widespread trauma. Viewing this violence as the public health crisis that it is will compel an examination of solutions to these root causes of violence. Lightfoot will elevate public health experts to prominent roles in violence prevention.
– Creating a new Mayor’s Office for Public Safety: Currently, Mayor Emanuel has just two full-time personnel on his personal staff devoted to public safety needs. New York City and Los Angeles have more robust offices, which leads to more effective engagement and management. Lightfoot will create a new first of its kind Mayor’s Office of Public Safety to oversee CPD, the fire department, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, support for victims and witnesses, support for formerly incarcerated people, a new Public Safety Oversight Board, a new Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and a new Working Committee on Individual and Community Wellness.
– Engaging with state and federal partners in a proactive and focused way to tackle the illegal gun problem: Lightfoot will support a much more proactive strategy to target gun trafficking before guns reach the city’s streets. Such a proactive strategy will require more focused coordination with the federal government to target gun traffickers, working with state government to strengthen gun laws including legislation regulating gun dealers, giving CPD a 360-degree view of illegal guns, and strategically deploying police cameras.
– Increasing the homicide clearance rate: Lightfoot will restore beat integrity, improve on-scene evidence collection, ensure detectives develop relationships in communities, invest in the crime lab and mobile NIBIN lab, and better integrate detectives into CPD’s innovative Strategic Decision Support Centers.
Other policies to address violence and reform the police department in the long run include:
– Bridging the divide between officers and communities: Lightfoot will focus CPD on community-level summits, involve community members in officer training, increase officers’ core competencies in neighborhoods, establish peace and reconciliation efforts, create a new Chief Diversity Officer for CPD, and increase the number of minority candidates admitted into the police academy.
– Reforming policing practices: Lightfoot will implement civilian oversight of the police, increase overall transparency regarding police activities including publishing CPD annual reports, reform the gang database, and stop CPD from cooperating with ICE. Lightfoot will also reduce police misconduct by improving training, using risk management tools within CPD, holding officers accountable for telling the truth, creating a hotline for officers to anonymously report misconduct, and bringing in mental health professionals as co-responders in mental health calls for service.
– Investing in communities: Lightfoot will increase economic opportunity, guarantee quality neighborhood schools, expand the use of violence interruption techniques, fight recidivism, and help ex-offenders re-enter society.
– Educating Chicago youth: Lightfoot will direct the Chicago Public Schools to develop a K-12 curriculum that teaches children how they can work within their communities to end violence and the spread of illegal guns.