Aldermen, Community Leaders React To Mayor Emanuel’s Public Safety Plan

Neighborhood Watch Protest
Charlene Carruthers, representing the Black Youth Project 100's in Chicago, protests outside Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., July 26, 2013. Phil Sears / Associated Press
Neighborhood Watch Protest
Charlene Carruthers, representing the Black Youth Project 100's in Chicago, protests outside Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., July 26, 2013. Phil Sears / Associated Press

Aldermen, Community Leaders React To Mayor Emanuel’s Public Safety Plan

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented his new public safety plan Thursday night at Malcolm X College. The plan focused on enforcement, investment and prevention. Aldermen, community leaders and academics weigh in on the new strategy:

Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd, on Emanuel’s plan:

I think you could probably go back to several speeches over the last few years, whether they’re budget speeches or something else, and pull the same pieces together and you’d have the same speech. When we’re talking about investment in neighborhoods and the jobs that are needed out there, this is something that we’ve been waiting (on) for five years. So the paltry dollars that are being put on the table now, and in some cases we don’t even know what those are, you know it’s years too late and dollars too short.

Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, on Emanuel’s new plan:

He knew all along there was a need. The proof is in the pudding.

Rev. Marshall Hatch on Emanuel’s speech:

The speech was not nearly specific enough about economic development. Not a lot of money to talk about economic investment, especially when we can talk about the way TIF funds are used to create investment opportunities. The same kind of influence the mayor is using to get corporate leaders to give money for jobs for youth is the same kind of influence that we could use to say, ‘let’s begin to build in under-served areas.’ I pastor in West Garfield Park. It has the least permits for construction of any community area in the city. It also has one of the highest crime rates. That’s called correlation.

Charlene Carruthers, of Black Youth Project 100, on feeling safe:

There are some potentially promising elements of the mayor’s proposals, however, those are unfortunately outweighed for me by some of the deep issues and challenges, particularly as it relates to his equation of community safety with more police officers … I live in Bronzeville, and police officers are there all the time, cars everywhere, and people are still shot. I don’t feel safe … Mentoring is important, (but) it continues to turn the eye of the problem on the young people, and not the structures in the city that are in place. We need more jobs. … And there was no mention of the mental health services that the mayor stripped from our communities.

Loyola Professor Arthur Lurigio on hiring more police officers:

It is (a good idea) … I think it’s not only a consideration of how many new officers will be added, but where they will be deployed and, more importantly, how they will be deployed … I would like us to consider whether policies and strategies of policing will also change. Will the new officers, for example, be better trained in all of the principles of community policing? Will the new officers be trained in how to effectively de-escalate? Will the new officers be trained in how to repair damaged relationships with communities of color? Just having new officers is not enough, the new officers should be doing things in furtherance of the police reform that we’re instituting.

(Adding about 200 new detectives) is critical. I think the biggest failing that I’ve seen in recent years is the abysmally low clearance rates. The clearance rates for homicides and the clearance rates for shootings have been low, and much lower than they are in other large cities … and that’s stemmed, in part, from not having enough detectives. Adding 200 detectives is refreshing for me to see, because I think we’ve been understaffed especially in regard to homicide detectives for several years. We do need more detectives, and we also need … to build relationships with the residents in those communities where shootings and homicides are most prevalent, because detectives need to talk to people.

We’ve learned from research that making an arrest has a powerful effect on not only the individual being arrested, but in the community at large. When 7 out of 10 murders aren’t cleared, that means 7 out of 10 murderers haven’t gotten away with murder.

Chicago police officer on the role of families in preventing violence:

It’s easier to say we’ll just hire more police. It’s easier to say we will offer 2,000 youth positions in the summer to keep kids off the street. These are all band-aids. It’s far more difficult to address the family foundation. A family unit that instills morality and holds the children accountable for their actions. Because it’s not an easy answer. How do you come into somebody’s house and teach them to raise children with morals and virtues?

Tamar Manasseh, of Mothers Against Senseless Killings, on Emanuel’s plan:

I was entertained. That’s pretty much just my reaction. … I didn’t get anything from it. There was nothing I learned from it. There was nothing of any real substance or real value that I got from it — at all. Because he laid out a long laundry list of things that the city wants to do, that he wants to do, and he has to do what he has to do, and MASK we still have to do what we have to do. And it looks to me like the two will not be intersecting, that once again this is not a way that we’re going be able to work together. He talked about how what we do is going viral, and how it’s going to different cities and different states, but he didn’t actually say what we do. Because it’s not about it going to different states, it’s about it spreading through Chicago. It’s about community policing, it’s about the community being involved so you don’t need a thousand extra police officers, 200 extra detectives. You don’t need that, the money can be put somewhere where it’s needed. But yeah, that’s not what’s going happen.

I don’t think we need more cops, I don’t think that’s the problem … We have to get so many problems with the police department resolved. You have all these new officers coming in, and the old officers teaching them the ropes, but are those really the ropes we want taught considering the problems we have with the current CPD?