Mayor Rahm Emanuel today is expected to deliver a broad speech on how he plans to quell the city’s rising murder rate, a day after his top cop trotted out the administration’s new Police Department hiring goals.
In addition to the plans announced by police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to add 970 cops to the city’s number of sworn officers, “it’s also going to be about mentors, it’s going to be about jobs, it’s going to be about economic development,” Emanuel said Wednesday. “It’s a comprehensive way to address the issue of public safety.”
While adding that many cops is an ambitious and costly goal, so too is another idea the mayor mentioned.
“Every child will have a mentor in our 20 worst violent crime areas and neighborhoods of the city, because we’re going to make sure not another generation falls to the grips of gangs,” Emanuel said.
“I believe in giving our kids a foundation, a foundation where they can make decisions today where on the doorsteps of adulthood that will determine the rest of their lives and their future,” Emanuel added. “And I’ve seen (that) Becoming A Man, My Brother’s Keeper, 100 Black Men, can provide youth with that foundation so they can make good decisions. And I believe in that.
“Because I’ll tell you this: The Vice Lords are ready to be a mentor. Is Chicago ready to be a mentor? The Gangster Disciples is ready to be a role model. Is Chicago ready to be a role model? The Six Corner Hustlers are ready to be a family. Is Chicago ready to be a family? I do know this: You give the kids of the city of Chicago a positive alternative with a caring adult, they’ll go the positive route.”
Emanuel also suggested he’ll talk about his long-stalled efforts to toughen gun laws and the need to support police, which could require him to tread a fine line. Some African-American elected officials oppose tougher minimum sentences, and distrust of police has mounted since the November release of a dashcam video showing Laquan McDonald being fatally shot as he appeared to walk away from police officers who were trying to apprehend the knife-wielding black teenager.
In that vein, the mayor could discuss his efforts to increase community trust in cops through a new police accountability system. He has proposed disbanding the Independent Police Review Authority and replacing it with a new agency with broader powers. He also would create a deputy inspector general’s post to keep an eye on the department.
That effort has come in fits and starts. The mayor and his City Council allies on Wednesday again delayed the date of a council meeting to consider that proposal. Instead of Sept. 29, it will be held Oct. 5, with a committee hearing on Oct. 3, they said.
In the meantime, Emanuel’s aides will brief aldermen next week on changes made to the proposal after Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton, the city’s top attorney, agreed to make some revisions.
Aldermen and police accountability experts want the city to provide some level of guaranteed funding for the new agency, to be called the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and the deputy inspector general. They also want COPA’s chief to be able to independently hire attorneys to enforce subpoenas and handle other matters.
But the mayor also indicated Wednesday his primary focus will be on addressing rising violent crime rates.