Letter: Police hiring: Years late, millions short
October 7, 2016

Dear Editor:

Less than two hours before Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent speech on public safety, progressive aldermen urged him to live up to his pledge to lead the most transparent administration in Chicago history and release the financial plan to pay for his new proposal to hire nearly 1,000 new police officers over the next two years.

“We are pleased that Mayor Emanuel has decided to live up to his 2011 campaign commitment to hire additional officers to prevent crime in our communities— but it’s years later, and untold millions of dollars short,” said Ald. John Arena (45th Ward). “We can’t help but wonder how many Chicagoans have needlessly become crime victims because of this extended delay.”

“We have called for many years for the Emanuel administration to bolster the police force—but we have also been clear that we can’t solve this problem through policing alone,” said Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd Ward). “Until we spend as much energy and money investing in our schools and neighborhoods, and in creating jobs to give people a path away from gang life, we won’t see significant change.”

“We need to know more about the administration’s plan to change the culture of the Chicago Police Department that has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in police settlements related to excessive use of force,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward). “The underlying issues of department culture that led to incidents like the murder of Laquan McDonald and the subsequent cover up must be meaningfully addressed. If they are not, we fear that those serious and sometimes deadly problems will be reinforced in the new group of recruits.”

“The Emanuel administration must use all of its relationships and resources to bring development and jobs to communities with high unemployment and high crime, or adding new officers will be only a band aid,” said Ald. David Moore (17th Ward). “I welcome the new officers on the street, but it’s important for my constituents to know there will be a focus on recruiting minority candidates into both the rank and file and the command structure.”

“We need to know exactly where the more than $138 million for the hires is going to come from—not to mention the funding for the new public safety inspector general’s office and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability,” said Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th). “As stewards of Chicagoans tax dollars, we can’t simply write a blank check. The Emanuel administration can’t just say ‘trust me’ anymore. It must show us the money.”

– Joanna Klonsky