Paul's Comprehensive Public Safety Plan
Public safety must be treated as a basic human right for Chicagoans
Paul Vallas will return CPD to its core mission to serve and protect the people of Chicago. Public safety is a human right, and it is the government’s responsibility to ensure residents feel safe and secure. Confronting the city’s crime problem and ensuring our residents’ safety is my top priority.
Chicagoans deserve a city that is safe for ALL. However, the current data tells us otherwise. Violent crime was still up in 2022 compared to pre-COVID 2019. Murders were up 41% and the number of people shot were up 33%. Chicago will close 2022 with more than 700 murders (all murders that occurred within the city limits) for the third straight year, which are numbers that have not been seen in 30 years. Sadly, almost 200 school-aged children have been murdered since 2019, including 72 just last year. Moreover, armed robberies and carjackings have skyrocketed since 2019. In fact, the number of stolen vehicles alone reached almost 22,000 last year – double from 2021 – averaging a mind boggling 100 per day.
It appears that the city has been surrendered to a criminal element that acts with seeming impunity in treating unsuspecting, innocent people as prey. The data also suggests that their confidence that they will never be held accountable is correct. Fewer than one in six murders result in actual arrests, and fewer than one in twenty shootings in which the victim survives result in arrests. Even worse, for more than half of the high priority 911 calls last year -- over 400,000, including over 32,000 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, interviews and social media of the States Attorney and Cook County Judges. Their failure to hold violent criminals accountable puts all of our safety at risk, particularly victims and witnesses of these violent crimes who know that most of these violent criminals will remain free to continue their terror. But the reality is that prosecutions start with making arrests. Despite the fact that murders are up 41% and the number of shooting victims are up 33% from 2019, arrests are also down almost 80% since 2019.
Our current state of affairs is the direct consequence of a wholesale failure of competent leadership and public safety.
Leadership that has failed to provide police with the strategy, staffing, resources, and support needed for effective collaborative, community-informed policing. Policing that:
Prioritizes protecting victims and witnesses of violent crimes
Recognizes that personal well-being starts with personal safety
Recognizes that 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 fear
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 leadership team. I will do so on the first day as Mayor and will appoint a new interim Superintendent. I will also assemble a new leadership team from within the Chicago Police Department – of accomplished men and women who have been successful Police Officers and have supported the rank and file.
Slam the door shut on the demoralizing and delegitimizing “Friends and Family" system of promotions -- so-called "merit" promotions based on who you know. Promotion to leadership positions must be based on objective performance criteria, demonstrated competencies, and experienced based expertise. In other words, making merit promotion truly merit based.
Rebuild sworn officer staffing from the current 11,710 to the fully appropriated 13,500 level that existed when I was the City of Chicago Budget Director.
Create a city operated Witness Protection Program that would be funded through fines and seized assets.
Rebuild the Detective ranks to 10% overall staffing and supplement the Detectives Divisions with hundreds of retired Police officers to provide support in order to do two things 1) become analysts to aid the clearance rates and (2) assure that witnesses and victims are protected. The victim/witness Detective relationships are critical to successful prosecutions.
End the “Scare Crow Policing” overtime initiatives that have Officers from all over the city just sitting in their police vehicles not performing any police functions that deter anyone. I will ensure that any overtime initiatives are given to the Districts to ensure that only Officers familiar with the District will patrol there.
Support the return to a community policing model, which Supt. David Brown inexplicably and with devastating effect dismantled immediately upon arrival in April 2020. My community policing strategy would prioritize beat integrity and ensure every Beat Car is manned. I would also restore the “Area Support Teams” to support District Commanders with extra manpower when needed.
Ensure Chicago has a well-resourced CTA Mass Transit Unit by using the funds spent for private security on the CTA to hire more CPD Officers. The $100 million spent this year could have paid for almost 300 additional police officers, bringing the CTA police levels to 500. The goal will be to ensure that every CTA station and platform have a police presence and that uniform and undercover officers are riding CTA trains.
Use the Office of the Mayor to immediately convene an intergovernmental summit constituted of city, county, and state agencies 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 crimes that the Cook County State’s Attorney Office discards. This ordinance would also hold those financially responsible for those who threaten, engage in, or promote looting, damage to property or violence within the City of Chicago.
Create a Case Review Unit within CPD to review States Attorney’s and Judges decisions on charging, findings, sentencings, and bonds to publicly hold them accountable for their failures.
The Chicago Police Department is in a manpower crisis due to a multitude of factors. By replacing Supt. Brown and his leadership team, ending friends and family promotions, the restoration of a normal work schedule and a supportive Mayor’s Office, we will help slow retirements and resignations to work at other police departments and help solve CPD’s recruitment crisis as well.
There are a number of policies that will rapidly rebuild both CPD strength and experience:
Invite Officers who have left the Chicago Police Department over the last three years to return to CPD with no loss in seniority from the day they left.
Consistent with the Consent Decree, recalibrate the background check process (while still maintaining a high standard) 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.
Be active in recruitment of experienced Officers from other Law Enforcement Agencies from around the country.
To expand the pool of quality candidates, I would allow CPD recruits not to have to maintain a Chicago residence until their 18-month probationary period is up. They then would be required to maintain city residency. Read more about this proposal here.
Currently, CPD recruits must have a Chicago residency upon starting the Chicago Police Academy which often leaves them scrambling to find a place to live (for those living outside the city limits) with many times only a few weeks' notice they are to start the academy. Providing this time for recruits allows those who are not from Chicago or even Illinois the opportunity to search for a neighborhood and get familiar with the City of Chicago.
As Mayor, I want to hire the best and the brightest officers and will utilize common sense recruitment incentives to achieve that.
We cannot turn Chicago around until we are safe to walk our streets, ride the L, or even let our children get home safe from school. These are fundamental HUMAN RIGHTS that remind us that it’s past time to confront the violence in our communities. This strategy will quickly restore and enhance CPD’s ability to keep all communities safe.
I promise to work with every community and every part of our great city to make your safety my top priority.
- PAUL VALLAS