Justin Bull: Morning, it's Thursday. I'm Justin Bull in for Erin Allen and this is The Rundown.
No Cop Academy is a phrase you may have heard in Chicago sometime in the last several years. It was a rallying cry from activists who were against the building of a $95 million dollar training center for police and firefighters on the city's West Side. Those who opposed that facility wanted the money to go towards things like mental health clinics and schools. Well, yesterday officials gathered in West Garfield Park to celebrate the opening of that controversial academy. Mayor Lori Lightfoot was there. Here she is at the ceremony touting the facility and acknowledging that it costs more money to make it a reality.
Lori Lightfoot: So $170 million dollars that we've invested so far in counting means that we will be on our way to having a world class facility that will pay for itself over time as we continue to train first responders from other police localities in the area.
Justin Bull: Block Club Chicago reports that the facility includes a tactical scenario village, basically a fake city block where first responders can simulate emergencies. It's worth noting that this academy was originally proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel just months after the Justice Department tore CPD to shreds. The report accused officers of frequent excessive force and civil rights violations. And that report itself was commissioned in response to the police killing of Laquan McDonald. Perhaps with all of that in mind yesterday, Police Superintendent David Brown said officers would use the new facility to "do things the right way," according to WTTW. Brown also said that "This training facility will hopefully put COPA out of business." That's a reference to the civilian office of police accountability, which investigates allegations of police misconduct. Officials say the new academy will replace three training facilities that were built in 1950, 1965 and 1976.
If you are into early voting, like I'm gonna be the first person to vote kind of early voting, well, today is your day my friend. Early voting begins today for the Chicago city elections, specifically at two downtown locations. One is super site at Clark and Lake. The other is actually just steps away at 69 West Washington. Voters from any neighborhood can cast a ballot at either of those sites. If you'd rather vote closer to home, each ward will open its own early voting location in a few weeks. What am I voting for you ask? Well, you're picking between nine candidates for mayor. You're picking your local city council member, AKA Alderperson. And there's a new office on the ballot too. You're also picking a representative to serve as a bridge between the community and the police, otherwise known as a police district council candidate. You can check out a sample ballot and find your polling place at Chicago elections.gov. And I recommend doing that. My polling place moved in November and I went to the wrong spot. I was embarrassed.
At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Congress passed an act that gave additional money to those enrolled in the food aid program known as SNAP. Now, the Illinois Department of Human Services has announced that those additional benefits are expiring on March 1st. IDHS predicts that that means snap recipients are going to start getting in anywhere from $95 to $250 less per month.
Marisa Kollias: We deeply recognize that this is a tough change, and that this will affect people significantly. So we our working again with our local food pantries across the state of Illinois just to make resources available for folks.
Justin Bull: That's a DHS spokesperson Marisa Kollias. She says the department is urging recipients to report changes in income or expenses to ensure they get the greatest benefit. This announcement follows an act passed by Congress in December that ended the additional COVID-9 emergency funding for SNAP.
And now for some quick hits, there was an extra alarm fire in a high rise building in the Kenwood neighborhood yesterday. One person died and several were injured. The Tribune reports that the building had been cited for fire code violations 11 times since October, 2021.
The annual JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival is showcasing films today through Sunday. This month's films focus on the holocaust. Tomorrow is international holocaust remembrance day. Mayor Lightfoot is rolling out another debt relief program for those struggling to pay a variety of city fines and fees. You can apply for payment plans or hardship relief and see if you qualify at chicago.gov/newstartchicago.
And my 16-year-old self is going into absolute hysterics on the news that GoldenEye 007 is getting re-released tomorrow on both the Nintendo Switch and Xbox. Me and my stupid little friends had a very unhealthy relationship with that game back during the Bush administration.
As for the weather, more snow showers today with temperatures in the low thirties, but starting this evening it's going to cool off. Temps are expected to drop into the mid to low twenties. And before I go, I wanted to make sure I mentioned that a new season of WBEZ's Motive Podcast is out now. It explores why people get into gangs, how gang violence spans generations and the workers who are trying to get people out. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
That's it for the Rundown today. I'm Justin Bull. Thanks for listening and I'll see you tomorrow.
WBEZ transcripts are generated by an automatic speech recognition service. We do our best to edit for misspellings and typos, but mistakes do come through.