king mayoral announcement

Ald. Sophia King (4th)

Mayoral candidate Ald. Sophia King's (4th) newly released public safety platform calls for firing incumbent police Superintendent David Brown and hiring hundreds of retired officers and detectives to, respectively, do non-dangerous duties and improve the city's crime clearance rate.

She would also turn back many of Mayor Lori Lightfoot's law enforcement initiatives, namely her establishment of citywide task force units, and return the 875 officers involved to full-time neighborhood patrols.

King also wants to create an Office of Gun Violence Prevention and expand money given to violence intervention programs that aim to give at-risk youth of color economic opportunities. 

That proposal is similar to recent state action, including an Illinois Office of Firearm Violence Prevention that coordinates with and funds anti-violence community organizations. King also wants to create an Office of Gun Violence Prevention and expand money given to violence intervention programs that aim to give at-risk youth of color economic opportunities. 

While some studies question the effectiveness of violence interrupters at preventing community violence, King said funding violence intervention programs "at scale" would be more preventative.

Similar to the state's creation of a mental health first-responder system in coordination with the federal government's new 9-8-8 number that connects to suicide and crisis hotlines, King also calls for expanding responses to substance abuse-, mental health- and extreme poverty-related 9-1-1 calls that would provide non-law enforcement responses to nonviolent situations. (The city, meanwhile, began programs piloting mental health responses to emergency calls last year.)

As more surveillance cameras have been installed throughout Hyde Park in response to a spate of violent crime last year, King proposes to do the same citywide, claiming that they and drones would be useful when physical pursuits or investigations could be dangerous to law enforcement or civilians.

King also wants officer body cameras to automatically start recording upon officers unholstering their firearms.

"Why don't we have that technology?" she asked in an interview. "When officers are in a situation, one of the last things they're probably thinking is, 'Oh, I've got to turn my body-worn camera on.' They shouldn't be thinking about that; they should be thinking about community safety."

She said she has been in conversation with violence prevention organizations and current and retired officers, including three past superintendents, though she declined to name them.

King said not even $5 million of the $85 million set aside for violence prevention in last year's city budget has been spent; she proposes spending $200 million more on violence prevention over the next two years.

"We're in a unique situation where we've got millions of dollars of federal funds that will run out in a few years," she said, recalling the money the city got through the 2021-passed American Rescue Plan Act enacted to counter the financial, health-related and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We should use that money wisely, put a dent in the real problems and scale up these programs."

King proposes enacting all changes mandated by the Chicago Police Department's consent decree, enacted because of the police murder of Laquan McDonald, by 2027. In March, the department and the Illinois attorney general extended the deadline for reforms to 2030 instead of 2027.

Fundamentally, "We need to start distributing police more equitably, but we also need more police," King said, hence her proposal for recruiting 1,000 retired officers into a "Chicago Reserve" to work at festivals and the academy and on case management and desk duty. Adding more than 200 detectives could be done, she said, by internal promotions and hiring back retired detectives.

That said, CPD is facing ongoing difficulties in filling its extant open positions and issues with burnout among officers. King said many retired officers are doing security work and wondered why they would not return to the force to do similar work "for a city that's in peril."

Her plan also proposes adopting $10,000 in home down-payment assistance for first-time home buyers on CPD and a $5,000 hiring bonus. She also proposes compressing the officers' workweek into one where they work two 10-hour shifts over four days, which would give them multiple three days off in a row every week instead of canceled time off and six days of work on end.

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