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 closed 2022 with more than 700 murders counting all murders that occurred within the city limits. That is the third straight year, something we have not experienced in 30 years.
Sadly, almost 200 school-aged children have been murdered since 2019, including 72 just last year. 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 and the first few weeks of 2023 has seen a significant jump over those already staggering figures.
It appears that city leadership has surrendered us all to a criminal element that acts with seeming impunity in treating unsuspecting, innocent people as prey. The data confirms their confidence that few of them will ever be held accountable. Less than one in six murders result in actual arrests, and under 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. 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 who will immediately redirect resources and personnel to the districts and begin the work of restoring the infrastructure and philosophy of community policing. I will also assemble a new leadership team from within the Chicago Police Department – of professionally accomplished sworn personnel, supported with expert civilian professionals as is done in the best departments nationally..
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.
Close the door on the demoralizing and delegitimizing “Friends and Family" system of promotions -- so-called "merit" promotions based on who you know. Promotion to leadership positions will be based on objective performance criteria, demonstrated competencies, and experienced based expertise. In other words, making merit promotion truly merit based.
Create a city operated Victim/Witness Protection and Services Program that provides the safety and well-being infrastructure needed to encourage the cooperation needed to successfully prosecute offenders..
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.
Build a Forensic Crime Lab within the Department as exists in other large municipal departments, like NYPD, so that processing and technical analysis of evidence is aligned with Detective Division needs and priorities.
End the overtime initiatives that have Officers from all over the city sitting in their police vehicles for show without 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.
Reinstitute a community policing model which Supt. David Brown inexplicably and with devastating effect dismantled immediately upon arrival in April 2020. Community policing is a philosophy, not a tactic, based on knowledge of the community’s history, culture and institutions in which an officer serves. A strategy that forms strong relationships with the trusted messengers and leaders living and working in the beats they patrol. 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.
Bolster and fully resource the 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 Transit Unit would have District Command status and leadership, operating with beat integrity to ensure that every CTA station and platform has a police presence. Uniformed and undercover officers will ride CTA trains and law enforcement will work coordinately with Transit Ambassadors with social service backgrounds to address behavioral and environmental issues like drug use, mental health crises and homelessness now proliferating in our public transit system.
Use the convening power of the Office of the Mayor to immediately organize an intergovernmental summit constituted of city, county, and state agencies to fashion integrated holistic solutions to the rampant crisis of unprecedented levels of crime, including community-based and non-profit agency leaders of street violence interruption, youth violence reduction, youth diversion, and returning citizen support agencies and programs.
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.
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, allow CPD recruits aa Chicago residency requirement grace period until the conclusion of the 18-month probationary status by which time residency must be fully established and maintained going forward.
Create a Police Reserve Unit constituted of former CPD officers who left to take positions in other city Departments, most notably the Chicago Fire Department where an estimated 400 plus former officers are employed as firefighters. This has worked successfully in Los Angeles by creating a cadre of certified law enforcement-trained personnel available to step into a variety of short-term duties and projects, like, for example, remedying the current operational backlog in CPD’s sex and gun offender registry programs.
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