Rahm's Crime Plan
Violence takes an enormous toll on Chicago and exacerbates almost every other problem the city faces. Children exposed to violence perform poorly in school, while precious resources are diverted from parks, public transportation and other pressing needs towards criminal justice and emergency medical care.
Violence also drives both businesses and residents out of the city further eroding the city’s tax base. Rahm’s aggressive anti-crime agenda takes on the most important drivers of crime in Chicago and re-directs resources to the most effective strategies for fighting crime.
Central to this strategy is the cop on the street who is the backbone of Chicago’s police force. Morale is suffering and the next Mayor’s first responsibility is restoring trust in police leadership. He has a record of standing with officers – he put 100,000 cops on the street while serving President Clinton, and has fought for the past decade to give them the resources they need to fight gangs, drugs and guns.
He will bring that same passion to the streets of Chicago with a plan that puts more cops on the street, provides comprehensive afterschool programming for Chicago’s children so that they spend more time in the classroom than on the street corner, decentralizes the police command structure, and pushes for stronger gun control laws on the federal, state and local level.
We cannot solve these problems without the active engagement of the community and stronger coordination among city departments. These two key ingredients are infused in all of Rahm’s proposals to reduce the crime rate.
1. Put 1000 More Cops on the Streets
Research suggests that each 10 percent increase in the size of the police force reduces violent crime by 4 percent and property crimes by 5 percent, meaning that each extra dollar spent on policing can generate up to $8 in long-term savings. More cops on the street also can create better relationships between law enforcement and communities. Police officers will become a presence in the neighborhood, rather than only available in response to emergencies.
Redeveloping blighted, high-crime areas requires a broader approach than the targeted economic stimulus and beautification efforts that are funded by TIFs. Rahm proposes a three-year strategy to drive down the violent crime rate in these areas by using excess TIF funds that are intended to promote economic development in each location. This strategy would add 250 police officers to specialized units that are strategically deployed to target crime in and around TIFs that are impacted by high crime rates. Driving down violent crime will help stabilize communities, raise property values and make neighborhoods attractive for investment and job creation – the exact purpose of the TIF program.
Deployment of police officers would depend on factors such as the type and level of violent crime and the geographic footprint of the TIF area (i.e. is it in one police district or does it overlap into others).
The cost of this initiative – $25 million – comes from the approximately $900 million in available TIF funds.
Over the past decade, the civilian workforce at the Chicago Police Department has been cut by more than 65%, leaving hundreds of sworn officers to cover administrative tasks. Rahm would like to overhaul and strengthen the Chicago Police Cadet program and use the new group of cadets to perform administrative responsibilities so that cops can return to the street. The cadet program enables students between the ages of 17 and 21 to learn police procedures while attending college. In addition to receiving exposure to the police profession, cadets perform a variety of clerical duties.
Under Rahm’s overhaul, cadets would be given meaningful responsibilities and later be eligible to be hired by CPD as police officers when they finish the program. Graduating cadets would be given hiring preference behind military personnel – providing a real incentive for the best and the brightest to join the program. The new program would also ensure that cadets provide consistent support to specific departments during their tenure, providing a level of consistency for the commanders that oversee them.
There are three main opportunities to replace administrative police work with cadets:
- Desks at each district are currently staffed by sworn officers. Cadets are able to complete many of those tasks and can replace cops so that they can return to the beat.
- Most districts also have additional officers working clerical roles in the Commander's Office and in other support functions. Many of those officers can return to the street and be replaced with a cadet in the office.
- Rahm will challenge the Department to continue to work with pro bono outside consultants to locate further efficiencies and reduce the number of officers performing administrative tasks.
There are about 1000 cops – 10% of the police force – on medical leave or limited duty at any one time because of a variety of health issues. Many of these are necessary because of job-related injuries, but there are too many “medical abusers” who earn full pay but leave fighting crime to their colleagues. Rahm recognizes the need for adequate and reasonable medical leave benefits for employees engaged in an inherently dangerous occupation, but that has to be balanced by a tough-minded but fair approach to ensure that the benefit is not abused. He will task the new Superintendent with developing plans to crack down on abuses.
The Police Department command structure has become more centralized over time – focusing manpower at the top while reducing the amount of resources available to fight crime on the street. In the last two years alone, ten positions have been added to the central office alone: two Assistant Superintendents, five Chiefs (north & southside patrol, CAPS, Counter-terrorism, IAD), a Deputy Chief (counter-terrorism), and two Commanders (IAD & Training).
Reducing various layers of bureaucracy can save millions of dollars that will be reinvested in putting dozens of new cops on the street. Rahm will give the new Superintendent a mandate to make these efficiency changes and further streamline operations. For example, there continues to be a Commander in charge of the Inspections Division despite a significantly-dwindling number of personnel there. This unit could be combined with others to realize savings.
We should not dictate these changes now; a study by the new Superintendent is needed to identify inefficiencies and areas where CPD can be modernized.
2. Educate to End Youth Violence
Of the 435 murders in Chicago last year, nearly half of the victims were between the ages of 10 and 25. A majority of those and other violent crimes happen in the hours when children are not in school. Providing opportunities for youth to be engaged in educational, artistic and athletic activities will reduce the likelihood that our children will become involved in the cycle of violence that effects too many of our neighborhoods.
Access to after-school programming is a win-win for our children: it is shown to both increase academic progress and reduce violence. Rahm will task the incoming Chicago Public Schools CEO with finalizing a system-wide afterschool program to be implemented at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.
While the details will be worked out with non-profit partners, teachers and CPS officials, Rahm will require that the program meet several basic requirements:
- The program must run five days a week for the entirety of the school year. It must run at least two-and-a-half hours per day.
- The program must offer opportunities in three areas – academics, arts and athletics. The mix will allow all students to extend their academic learning day by an hour each day, and add on an elective in sports or cultural arts for an additional hour.
- The program will be staffed through a mix of teachers and community-based non-profit staff, and would be coordinated by the new Director of Family and Community Engagement that Rahm proposed as part of his education plan. The Director will have access to a menu of programs and professionals that would be vetted by the central office. Each school would have the flexibility to individualize its offerings based on local needs.
- The program should reach the most at-risk youth and be used to incentivize parental involvement. Those parents who stick by their commitment in the parent-teacher contract will get priority spots for their children in after-school programs.
- Almost all CPS children are eligible for a “third meal option” – a snack or a hot meal after school – that they would receive during the after-school hours. The cost for this meal is covered by the federal government.
The cost of the program is estimated at $95 million per year. The majority of funding would come from current sources – for example, the $50 million received for Supplemental Education Services through Title 1 federal funding, and the current $15 million used for after-school programming in a less coordinated manner.
Much of the federal funding is restricted to specific types of programming, so the remaining $30 million would be raised from two sources – $5 million can be raised through school partnerships with local businesses and non-profit organizations that want to target specific schools and communities with innovative after-school programming, and $25 million from new advertising revenues that will be earmarked for enhanced educational opportunities. This would include new ads on the City’s vehicle stickers, on garbage trucks, and at other public venues, like farmers’ markets. The specific approaches will be finalized as part of Rahm’s broader plan to bring in outside experts to identify and prioritize potential assets where advertising would be appropriate. The team will provide both a revenue estimate and a recommended process for implementing the plan. On all of the assets, Rahm will ensure there are adequate disclaimers and limitations on the extent to which advertising will be allowed.
Too often, our youth must navigate through gang territories on their way to school. Rahm will challenge both the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Public Schools to create innovative mechanisms to ensure safe passage, from increased information sharing to increasing neighborhood and parental involvement in assisting our children to getting to and from school.
Crime is typically thought of as a problem for the police department to handle and education as something for solely within the purview of the schools. But there are many important cross-system opportunities, such as getting a young person to graduate from high school because of its significant crime reduction impact. And many youth most at risk for high school dropout have already come to the attention of the juvenile and criminal justice systems as well as other public agencies. As mayor, Rahm will create a central focus across city departments and working collaboratively with county, state and federal agencies, to ensure that cross system coordination and collaboration are the rule rather than the exception.
As a start, Rahm will create a commission across city agencies to share information every time a school age youth is shot in the city. The School Age-Youth Shooting Review Commission would systematically review all the data available on every Chicago youth that is shot to help identify patterns and gaps in key services, and to develop effective strategies to prevent gun violence among school age youth. The Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission provides a model for doing this.
Youth who do not graduate from high school are more likely to commit crimes and be the victims of violent crime, as well as facing increased likelihood of being unemployed. With the high school graduation rate in the Chicago Public Schools hovering at barely 50% – and at an abysmal 39% for African American males – Rahm knows that we cannot make headway on the youth violence problem without improving the high school graduation rate. He will task the incoming CEO of CPS and the Director of Family and Community Engagement to realign existing resources to expand programs for youth at highest risk for school dropout and criminal involvement as well as those who have already dropped out of school or who are involved in the criminal or juvenile justice system. Proven and cost effective models include New York City’s “small schools of choice program” as well as Career Academies. These efforts would build on the important work being done by Graduate Chicago launched earlier this year to work with leading Chicago non-profit, community-based, and private sector organizations to align efforts with Chicago Public Schools to help young people graduate for high school ready for college, careers, and life.
3. Demand Federal and State Action in Illegal Guns
The war against illegal guns is happening on the local, state and federal level. Mayor Daley has been a national leader in his fight for stronger gun laws, and Rahm is committed to carrying that fight to Washington DC and Springfield until every illegal gun is off Chicago’s streets.
Rahm will continue Mayor Daley’s active role in national organizations and lobbying efforts that advocate for stronger gun laws. He will participate in groups like Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and will use his experience passing the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban to help plot federal strategy on gun laws.
In Springfield, Rahm will immediately push for the passage of a bill that closes all background check loopholes. The federal Brady Bill only applies to purchases from licensed dealers, which account for about 60% of purchases. Rahm wants to see the state close the loophole for the remaining 40% of purchases in Illinois.
4. Increased Collaboration to Remove the Most Dangerous Offenders from Our Streets
The recent deaths of Police Officers Alex Valadez, Tom Wortham, Thor Soderberg and Michael Flisk all occurred at the hands of individuals who had previously been arrested. Some of the offenders who have been charged with the above murders were on parole or probation at the time they killed these men. If individuals are willing to kill police officers, no member of the community is safe. Rahm will work diligently to ensure that legislation is passed and collaboration is occurring at all levels to keep violent offenders off the streets, leaving them unable to terrorize our communities.
The city relies heavily on federal prosecutors and resources to prosecute the most serious offenders and gun traffickers. Continuing successful collaborative efforts such as Project Safe Neighborhoods and the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative will be essential, while also examining new ways to partner to remove violent offenders from our streets. One successful program – the US Marshal’s Safe Surrender Program – encourages residents who are wanted for non-violent felony or misdemeanor crimes to voluntarily surrender to law enforcement in a faith-based setting and have their cases adjudicated in a safe and non-violent environment. The program has had remarkable and extremely cost-effective success in 18 states, and is the type of approach that Rahm will push in Chicago.
It is essential that once individuals are released from prison that they are provided with opportunities to successfully re-enter into society. Rahm will bring together social service providers, government agencies and faith-based partners to develop comprehensive mechanisms for ex-offenders. There is currently ample funding for ex-offender initiatives, but that money must be better coordinated to give these individuals a second chance.
Increase efforts to trace weapons that are used in crimes and push to publicly release that information
The Chicago Police Department collects more illegal firearms off the streets than any other police department in the country. We must provide officers with the tools to be able to trace where those guns are coming from as well as what crimes they have been used. Rahm will encourage increased collaboration between the CPD and federal agencies to fund and develop comprehensive systems for tracing and tracking information on guns used in crimes. He will also push federal agencies to release that data to the public so that those who sell illegal guns can be held to account.
5. A Record of Fighting Guns, Gangs, and Drugs
Rahm's dedication to keeping Chicagoans safe has spanned his entire career in public service. He is proud to have pushed the Brady bill, the ban on assault weapons, the Elder Justice Act, the Violence Against Women Act and the Juvenile Brady bill.
Rahm played a leading role in passing President Clinton's landmark 1994 crime bill that put 100,000 community police on our streets nationwide – many of them here in Chicago. He fought to pass the assault weapons ban and the Brady Bill to close the gun-show loophole. He also voted to authorize funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS), which provided grants to state and local law enforcement to reduce the distribution and abuse of illegal drugs.
To help cops on the beat, Rahm secured funding for CLEAR – a computerized information system that improves information sharing between criminal justice agencies at the local, state and federal level.
Rahm led the effort to pass Brady's Bill – a commonsense provision that mandated background checks on individuals purchasing firearms. As a result, an estimated 1.8 million potentially dangerous purchases have been blocked. Rahm later proposed the Juvenile Brady bill, extending background checks to juvenile violent crime as well. As White House Chief of Staff, Rahm also worked tirelessly to pass the reauthorization of the assault weapons ban included in President Clinton's landmark crime bill.
Rahm successfully fought for legislation to keep tabs on sexual predators via electronic monitoring. While in Congress, he sponsored the Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde Act – much of which was later included in the bipartisan Children's Safety and Violent Crimes Prevention Act.
Seniors are frequent targets of fraud and other petty crimes. Rahm introduced the Elder Justice Act making crimes against seniors a federal offense. He was honored to stand by President Obama as the legislation was signed into law as part of the health care reform bill.
As a Congressman, Rahm consistently voted to increase funding to programs that combat illegal drug use and twice voted to increase funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program.