CJP’s Analyzes the Mayoral Candidates’ Crime Platforms

It is amazing to me that after all the media attention to this summer’s violence – when words like “epidemic” were so often used and there was a call for the National Guard to be deployed – that the rhetoric on crime and violence from the mayoral contenders is so shallow. I have no idea why the media has chosen this opportune moment to abandon this topic, but if they were paying attention they would realize that not a single candidate brings any significant new ideas to the table of crime and violence.

Below I will summarize each of the candidate’s crime and violence platforms and interject a little bit of reality to help you cut through the propaganda that is being used. The information presented here about the candidates was gleaned from their websites, the press, and the Fraternal Order of Police questionnaires answered by many of the candidates.

This should not be seen as an endorsement of any particular candidate but viewed as an effort by CJP to inform community members about each candidates views on crime and violence in Chicago.

Carol Moseley Braun:

“I plan to work with the Chicago Police Department to review and implement new policies for patrolling and deployment of sworn personnel”

“To help alleviate both the understaffing and budget issues, I create the Chicago Auxiliary Police Department comprised of retired CPD officers. Although these “reserve” officers have the authority to make arrests and carry weapons, they will be utilized primarily to perform the more mundane policing duties. For example, “reserve officers” can handle booking and normal police station paperwork, freeing up “actively serving full-time” officers to focus on serious crime. Most importantly, “reserve officers” can be hired at a much lower salary since they are already receiving pension payments. Implementing this staffing strategy would strengthen our overall police presence without incurring any additional pension obligations.”

Wow, has anyone calculated the number of times over the last 2 decades that the CPD has moved officers from desk duties to the street? How many could be left? Braun’s idea would be interesting if anyone in the world would link the upsurge in crime in Chicago to the lower number of officers on the street. Wait for it…crime actually declined last year. Again, there is nothing original here except another appeal for the Fraternal Order of Police vote and the repetition of failed policies.

ChicoGery Chico:

Gery Chico recently released a 17-page plan addressing crime called “The Chico Public Safety Plan”. I will discuss many of his promises here.

Add 2,000 more police officers to the street by the end of the first term.

The Department loses approximately 500 officers a year through normal attrition, so adding 2000 officers over 4 years results in a zero sum gain. What Chico should say is that his plan will do nothing more than keep up with the average number of officers lost yearly to attrition. Secondly, he provides no information about where in the world he is going to locate the $200,000,000 needed to pay for these new hires.

Reestablish Community Policing with sufficient police manpower so that residents are engaged in making their communities safe.

I guess here Chico is assuming that residents are currently engaged in making their communities safe through community policing. An Alderman once said to me that “CAPS is nothing more than a propaganda campaign for Daley” (whether or not that is correct, I will leave for another day). One academic wrote about community policing, arguing that it is nothing more than the police obtaining a warrant from the community to do what they were going to do anyways.

Increase efficiency and coordination among centralized special units.

This is not worth addressing because Chico fails to provide any evidence that this is a problem that needs solving. Lacking evidence, this point seems to be nothing more than propaganda.

Shift sworn officers performing office duties to District Law Enforcement.

Once again, this is nothing new, just the same stuff Daley and every superintendent of the CPD have said for the last 20 years.

Streamline executive staff and strengthen the chain of command.

This actually has some potential. Sources within the CPD have claimed for years that the Department is top heavy with way too many layers of command staff. Chico is on to something here, but his promise is vague at best and without details there is no way to measure if he lives up to this promise.

Expand Ceasefire’s program to all high-crime areas in Chicago.

Northwestern University’s evaluation of CeaseFire has demonstrated that the program showed statistically significant results in only one area. There is no reason to expand a program with such lackluster results, unless the person proposing the expansion is ignorant of its mechanisms or goals.” I am in favor of increasing the amount of money spent in communities for anti-violence work. I am just not sure CeaseFire should become the vehicle for this given its tainted past.

Increase police presence in and around schools.

Whether or not children that are killed in violence are Chicago Public Schools students does not mean that this violence is occurring at schools, regardless of how the media focuses on this point. In fact, analysis has proven that the vast majority died in violence that was blocks – if not miles – from the schools and during times outside school hours. It would seem that if we are trying to end the school-to-prison pipeline, one thing we would want to do is remove officers from the schools, not increase their presence.

Miguel del Valle

“I recommend an ambitious but realistic plan to increase the level of police hires each year with the goal of achieving proper staffing levels within ten years….Second, it is past time to re-align district boundaries to reflect current trends in criminal activity.

I would start the process of increasing the number of police working to prevent and solve crimes by reallocating funds towards filling the current vacancies on the police force, and shifting city resources away from desk work and lower priorities, such as writing parking tickets.”

I endorse programs like the Community Renewal Society High HOPES campaign, which focuses training and action of CPS officials around restorative justice practices

What is the proper staffing level for the CPD? I am sure the Fraternal Order of Police (the union representing patrol officers) has a suggestion, but then again I have no idea what they would base their answer on, other than whatever increases the numbers, and thus power, of their union. It seems like the mayoral contenders just cannot help but advocate for an increased police force.

What does separate del Valle from the field is that he is the first to come out in favor of beat realignment. I guess it is pretty obvious that del Valle is putting the interests of citizens that live in high crime neighborhoods before the interests of those that comprise the white Northside vote. His endorsement of the Community Renewal Society High HOPES program is the first instance of any mayoral candidate bringing a new idea to the table outside of continuing to confront social problems stemming from numerous social ills with a criminal justice system response, namely sending in the cops to make arrest, and for that alone del Valle should be complimented.

Rahm Emanuel:

“I will be rolling out a comprehensive crime agenda in January that will put more cops on the street and give them the resources they need to do their job. I have already announced one piece of that plan – a three-year strategy using TIF funds to add 250 police officers to new squads that target crime in and around TIFs that are impacted by high crime rates.”

“The cost of this initiative—$25 million—comes from the approximately $900 million TIF funds”

“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 emergency.”

“Reducing the 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.”

download a copy of Emanuel’s crime document here.

First, more officers will not make a difference. The suggestion that it will is doing nothing but placating the masses who do not understand that cops do little in the way of preventing crime. Second, one can only wonder where in the world these officers would get deployed if they were tied to TIF districts. It seems like Dumke and Javorsky proved that majority of the TIF money over the last decade went to the 2nd ward to build up the South Loop. Should we assume that the new cops would also go there? I might be wrong, but I think the South Loop is a pretty safe area.

After-school programs are great, but is this really a new approach to crime fighting? It sounds a lot like what Daley has talked about and done over the past 20 plus years. How many more kids are going to get caught up in the alternative markets and lose their lives before someone in a position of authority decides to stop repeating these failed practices?

Let’s examine what 250 new officers would mean, using some math:

25 CPD Districts – each of which has 3 watches = 75 watches each day in Chicago
250 new officers / 75 watches = approximately 3 officers per watch.

Now this calculation only applies if all 250 officers are assigned to regular patrol duties and none of the officers are assigned to inside jobs or specials units. Also, as noted above, the CPD loses approximately 500 or more officers a year due to attrition. So, it appears Emanuel’s plan would not increase the size of the force from the current numbers, but would merely soften the impact of the losses through attrition. For a single year, that is.


To stop violent crimes, the City of Chicago must declare a “State of Emergency.” Thus the Mayor must institute a series of specific actions to immediately alleviate the root causes, which result in increased crime and thereby increase safety. Pursuant to the meaningful declaration of this State of Emergency, we must Suspend all Police Officer vacations and furlough days: Conduct high visibility Outdoor Roll Calls in and around high crime areas: Conduct Outdoor Police Academy Recruit Training sessions in and around high crime areas: Stop all Police Parking Ticket writing activities: Limit Police Traffic Court appearances to those involving personal injury, auto damage, DUI, drugs or weapons: Replace the vast majority of sworn officers presently assigned to office and desk duty with civilians and assign more officers to street beat patrol

Walls’ platform is the embodiment of all that is wrong with the candidates’ and the press’ thoughts on crime. Walls seems to think that the only way to deal with crime in high crime areas must be completely centered on the criminal justice system. There really is not much to say here except that what Walls is calling for here is just short of calling in the National Guard.


“I have released “The SAFE CITY Initiative” that would increase the number of police officers working in our communities, and give them the resources to build community trust in preventing and solving crimes. The gripping causes of crime must be uprooted. As Mayor, I would make it a priority to address the shortage in the ranks of our police officers. It would be shortsighted and ineffective to implement any crime prevention plan that simply hires more police with no additional support. Chicago’s violence rate is more than double that of other major cities, such as Los Angeles and New York. Anytime a police office loses his/her life fighting crime it is tragic and senseless. A thoughtful, actionable precise economically feasible program must be implemented. In addition, I would seek for innovative public/private partnerships to fund these programs”

“I recently announced that it time to bring a new approach to the way that Chicago fights crime and violence. We can no longer simply place more police in the line of fire, while the rest of us go home. The plan has 5 components: 1) Expansion of evidence-based, street level intervention programs, such as Ceasefire and the “Walking School Bus” program; 2) Overhaul of the CAPS program to create more trust between community residents and police officers, 3) Building stronger partnerships between the City and the State to improve reintegration and reduce risk of the record numbers of 24,000 inmates being released from prison to Chicago communities each year. 4) Continue the fight for common sense gun laws at the federal level because Chicago has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, but individuals can still go to states with weaker laws and buy firearms. 5) Seek innovative public/private partnerships and programs, such as Social Impact Bonds to fund these programs”

Well, I wonder where we have heard another mayoral candidate talk about increasing the size of the police force?

I will take each of the five components separately:

There is no evidence-based research that shows that CeaseFire works as a crime reduction strategy. This does not mean we should not fund community level anti-violence work — I actually am in favor of funding these programs– but to suggest that CeaseFire’s results are evidence-based is just incorrect. Northwestern’s study of CeaseFire showed that it only worked in a single area in Chicago based upon an analysis of the available data. I would not say this is evidence in support of CeaseFire. I have no information on the Walking Bus Program, but would want to see independent research validating its efforts before we dump a bunch of money to expand the program.
I am all for an overhaul of CAPS, but with the limited information that is provided here I have no idea what that means. Also, from the data released by the city about participation in CAPS I am not sure if we should continue to drop money on a program that serves such a small amount of the residents. Similarly, if the entire CPD is to adopt the program, then does it cease being alternative?
I am all in favor of working to increase the success rate of the transition from prison to the community, but besides this line I have no idea what Watkins’ plan will consist of. If Watkins is suggesting using the best evidence-based practices from around the nation then I am all for it, and I think this is a great idea that no other mayoral candidate has addressed. The only problem here is the line is just a slogan and is not followed up with any real meat.
Mick Dumke enlightened us to the propaganda role played by the City’s gun ban. When the CPD seeks to charge someone with violating the gun ban, most of the time the prosecutors will drop it because the offenders have also violated the state’s law on guns which carry more serious repercussions. I am in favor of strong gun control, yet remain unconvinced that Chicago’s gun ban has had a real impact.
I am all in favor of seeking innovative ways to fund programs, but once again most of what Watkins is talking about is focused on the enforcement side of the criminal justice system, and lacks any talk about job creation as being the vehicle for reducing crime.


Upon review of each of the candidate’s platforms you can see that regardless of who the new mayor will be, they are going to continue to pour resources down the CPD drain. While everyone is crying out for an increased police force, crime continues to decline in Chicago. I am appalled by the resilience of the violent crime in some neighborhoods. The same people who cry out for more cops seem unwilling to come to the realization that, with the exception of certain specific instances, the CPD are not a crime deterring force. These same people refuse to do the politically-dangerous- yet-dearly-needed beat realignment, which would increase the size of beats in low crime areas and decrease the size of beats in high crime areas. Why? Because nobody wants to lose the white Northside vote. Northsiders believe the reason there is not crime on their streets is because of the police, so misguided. What northsiders fail to understand is that there are a whole host of sociological factors that go into why someone does and does not commit crime and the police have only a small impact on this reality.

It is clear this group of mayoral candidates is doomed to repeat the same mistakes Chicago has made for decades by flushing badly needed money down the CPD drain. By the end of 2011, it is projected (we only have projections because the CPD refuses to release accurate data on staffing) that the CPD will be down 2000 officers which results in what CJP projected as $227,000,000. Think about what could be done in crime prevention programs, mental health clinics, drug treatment facilities, and most of all subsidizing factories to come to Chicago and employ thousands of Chicagoans with low skill and no skill with jobs that will pay a living wage. This is not a discussion that any of the candidates or the media want to have, so instead we are tying our future to our past mistakes. How many more lives will be ruined by violence until we in Chicago try to find new solutions?

Tracy has nearly two decades of experience researching and working within criminal justice systems. When Tracy began pursuing a career dedicate to system reform, he found that no single organization existed to promote evidence-based discussions among law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Recognizing that citizens in Chicago deserved the right to demand transparency in their criminal justice system, Siska established the Chicago Justice Project. He received his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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