Public Safety


When I speak with people in the 46th Ward, crime is the top issue on the minds of most.  In particular, the increase in violent crime over the past year has many concerned, even our most seasoned residents.  The proliferation of carjackings, armed robberies, and shootings have justifiably scared people into feeling unsafe when they leave their homes.  For a ward that relies heavily on its entertainment Districts, the perception that our neighborhoods are unsafe also poses economic consequences to local businesses which employ thousands of workers.  We also should not lose sight of the fact that violence amplifies inequality, and it traumatizes victims.  We should never downplay the lasting effect that violence has on individuals, families, and communities.  While crime concerns seem daunting, I have a vision for how Chicago needs to systematically address its public safety issues.


In order to effectively address the unacceptable level of Chicago’s violent crime, City Hall, in concert with law enforcement and other stakeholders, needs to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce crime.  Most importantly, the plan must be transparent to our residents, and it must establish predesignated data-driven metrics to track our progress.  If aspects of the plan fail to produce the intended results, we must be agile and make course corrections.  The safety of our people is far too important to ignore.  We need to set standards for what we expect from the police and our residents.  Most importantly, we need elected leaders who take ownership of their residents’ public safety concerns and who will work with various agencies and departments to ensure successful results. 


A comprehensive, transparent, and data driven crime plan must include short-term, mid-term, and long-term strategies.  Accordingly, we need to take different approaches to addressing crime on parallel tracks if we want to attain lasting success.  Our immediate priority must be to increase our police force because empirical data strongly supports this as a mechanism for quickly reducing violent crime.  Mid-range plans should focus on other tactics such as alternative approaches to addressing individuals with mental health issues.  Likewise, we must look long-term at programs designed to dissuade individuals from engaging in violence.  For example, the University of Chicago Crime Lab has seen promising results (albeit on a small scale) from the Becoming a Man and READI programs.  Crime is a multi-faceted issue that can be approached in multiple ways, but we must focus our resources on those solutions that have proven to work.      


We also need to take a zero-tolerance policy toward violent crimes.  If our efforts to prosecute gun crimes through the state’s attorney’s office prove ineffective, we should explore partnering more consistently with federal law enforcement to address these crimes, in particular gun crime and hate crime.  As we approach an era without cash bail, we must also reexamine our electronic monitoring program to ensure its reliability and effectiveness.  As we see now, too many people who are released from custody pending criminal charges commit additional crimes while on electronic monitoring.  Last year, over 50 people on electronic monitoring were arrested for shootings or murders.  In order to regain the public’s trust in the system, we need to hire more staff to perform electronic monitoring and invest the resources to verify that the technology functions properly to incentivize people who have been released from custody to comply with the program’s requirements.  More effective electronic monitoring will play a key role in curbing violent crime.  


In addition to a city-wide plan to address crime, I believe that we must fully staff the 19th police district that services the majority of the 46th Ward.  Over the last ten years, we have witnessed a 40% reduction in the number of police officers who patrol the area that constitutes the current 19th District.  Under-resourcing the District makes it difficult for officers to do their jobs well and frustrates the officers who want to effectively serve our community.  Too often, we lack the necessary number of local law enforcement officers required to address our residents’ needs.  I will be the alderman who fights for those resources, and I will prioritize making our ward safer.