Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s much-anticipated public safety speech Thursday night at Malcolm X College focused on enforcement, investment and prevention. The mayor reiterated the city’s plan to hire more police officers and upgrade technology at the Chicago Police Department. Emanuel also doubled-down on the need for stricter gun laws, job creation and the expansion of mentor programs.
Emanuel announced that the city will invest $36 million over the next three years to expand those mentor programs, and wants half of that money to come from corporations, philanthropies and donors.
The mayor joined Morning Shift Friday to expand on his plan.
Q: The big question is how your plan will be funded. You’ve said you won’t raise taxes to pay for additional officers…what other options do you have?
A: I think fundamentally it’s about putting police on the streets and getting kids with guns and gangs off the street. We have to put our resources where we can get —and they’re limited — the best kind of return. I do believe in strengthening technology and the manpower of the police department, but no resource we have matches the resource of community working with police. I couldn’t have been clearer about that.
And I also believe respect is on a two-way street, and the police have to work with the community, and the community has to support the officers for them to be effective. That’s an ingredient that no modern manpower or technology can make up for.
This is a complex problem and therefore calls for a comprehensive plan. And too often the decks are stacked against our kids, which is why I’ve laid out a comprehensive mentoring program that University of Chicago Crime Lab has proven to work; and that is with ‘Becoming A Man,’ 100 black men learning to be a man — it’s all part of mentoring our kids so they can make the right choices. So we took 20 crime-ridden neighborhoods, and we’re going to make sure every 8th, 9th and 10th grader has a mentor in a mentoring program so they can make good choices. Mentoring is key for kids that are missing that kind of structure in their lives; that kind of moral compass pointing them in the right direction.
Q: We’ll get back to mentoring in a moment. You’ve said you wouldn’t raise taxes to pay for additional officers. One of the outstanding questions is how the policing part of the plan will it get funded? What other options do you have?
A: That’s what my budget is for, and I’ll lay it out in a couple weeks. About two months ago I simultaneously asked Supt. Johnson ‘what do you need?’ And I told the budget team that public safety is my number one priority. We’re going to find money in the budget, as I have, and where I need private resources, I will. We are going to fund this because our neighborhoods need more resources, both technology wise and human. It doesn’t take away from other efforts we’re going to do like job creation.
I ran into this officer today, and I thought he was gonna tell me what he liked in the speech, but he said he started as a mentor and that that’s why he chose to become a police officer, because I think we can make a difference. I’m not going lay out a pIan for cops, and it’s not going be a two-year effort to put forth the resources as it relates to manpower, but again that resource needs to be matched by public support which has to be earned.
A lot of the push back we’ve been hearing overnight is around people not trusting that the plan is not feasible because they don’t understand how the funding is going to work. Is there a way to get that information out sooner than later so you can get support for this plan?
Well I know having been around the city there’s support for the plan because there’s also support to do something about it. You can’t get from here to there without the additional police, mentoring, or additional investments in our neighborhoods. There’s a cost to this, and there’s a cost to lost lives; a child being hit by a stray bullet. We will measure up the resources we need to make this requirement and there will be no shortage of our ability to do that.
For the last five years, we have been in a very dedicated place of cutting our budget and investing in after-school and summer jobs … and we finally got all four pension fixed. When it come to fiscal and producing the resources necessary, we have a record in the city that people have acknowledged which is why we got an upgrade in our outlook … I have every year balanced the budget, cut the deficit and put resources into our children’s future and we’re going to continue to do that in the … budget.
Q: Why do you think the murder rate so high this year?
A: So there’s a context: 2013-14 we saw the lowest levels in about 40 years, both shooting and homicide. Too high for me still, but Chicago versus Chicago data. We’ve always had a gang and gun problem. Where cities across the country are experiencing an uptick, ours is bigger and it has to deal with fracture that’s existed between communities and the police.
Police are clearly going through some fundamental changes, while we’re also asking them to approach their job in very perilous situations, at the very time in which they aren’t sure they have the public’s support.
On the other hand, the public wants to see the police do their job but have to do it differently. I will also say this: In the change, the gangs have noticed a difference and therefore they are being emboldened … And I think that’s a piece of it, not the only piece — there’s also an economic piece to it. That’s why we’re working really hard to get economic investments in every part of the city.
Some say the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is replacing IPRA, isn’t independent of your office and that that is problematic. If you’re dedicated to rebuilding trust with the community, how do you help people trust that COPA is the right step?
While that’s a fair question it’s a limited question, if I can be direct. That’s a piece of it but not it.
Every interaction part of a learning experience. Preaching the divide … authority and transparency . Body cameras, trained on Tasers, having an indep. author … training and mental health .. all these pieces go into the trust building stew.
On element, big but not the element: funding and independence. Two issues remaining that doesn’t take away…task force. … other 90 percent don’t count.
Q: What is your office asking the DEA, FBI to do?
A: There are three parts: we have a difference in our city as it relates to guns, gangs and drug distribution. They have the capacity to play a role on the criminal side as it relates to prosecuting and repeat offenders. But maybe this is what I should have addressed in the speech: We have a record-breaking 31,000 kids in our summer jobs, but the federal government makes up less than two percent of funding for those kids. The human side of mentoring and after-school and summer jobs counts on public safety. Employment counts on public safety and federal government funding — they too can step up. Chicago is without real state or federal partnership. The federal government and the state [of Illinois] has been missing in action. And our kids and communities are reflecting that.
Q: Do you think your plan goes far enough to address entrenched poverty?
It’s easy to be a critic. I’ll accept criticism but I also want contributions to resources and ideas. I’ve always noticed that some of the people who criticize are the ones that then vote against revenue needed to fund these efforts. So I’ll take my responsibility, but this is Chicago’s fight, not the mayor’s fight … Poverty plays a role, which is why I’m pleased with what we’re doing … It’s not just work, it’s the dignity that comes with it. But if you’re a gang member and you walk a 9-year-old to an alley and a light bulb never goes off in your head that what you’re about to do is wrong, that’s a moral issue.
Q: How do you measure success?
A: It’s a component of efforts. There’s one measure, reductions in shootings and homicides, and then economic growth and mentoring.
We’re not going to fix this in six months. Entrenched poverty and the consequences of poverty are generational. I don’t think we should be false or try to move the bar on everybody because while [we’re] not going to move the needle, so to say, in six months, one way to look at this is generational. Some long term ways by turning men’s lives around. I have been a mentor to some young men as mayor …This is an effort to bring the city together around a set of ideas and to scale them up. I don’t have problem with criticism, but I do want contributions. This is all our fight.