As Chicagoans prepare to choose a new mayor this Tuesday, April 4th, the top issue for many voters is public safety. The two candidates — Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson — offer very different visions and policy priorities.
Paul Vallas’s plan is a continuation of Chicago’s disinvestment and criminalization that has failed to keep us safe. Brandon Johnson’s plan is a comprehensive and holistic approach that can be quickly implemented and addresses the root causes of violence and crime.
We believe Brandon Johnson is the better mayoral candidate for the city of Chicago — and specifically the better candidate for public safety. Here is what Johnson is proposing:
- Johnson has promised to promote and train 200 new detectives from the rank and file. This will ensure that there will be a group of officers working to investigate & solve crime at its roots. He promises to do this on Day One with the workforce that already exists, rather than waiting to hire new officers. As such, Johnson offers an immediate solution that can be implemented quickly.
- Johnson is a strong supporter of Treatment not Trauma, a plan to implement a 24-hour crisis response hotline for mental health emergencies in Chicago and reopen shuttered mental health clinics. This ordinance would ensure that mental health care specialists who are trained to work with people experiencing mental health crises can respond to emergency calls and de-escalate situations. He has pledged to pass this ordinance in the first 100 days and will work to implement this quickly to immediately help make our city safer. This will mean that our existing police force will not have to spend time responding to mental health calls that they are not equipped to answer. This ordinance will also help reduce the risk of being killed by police, which is 16 times higher for Chicago residents with untreated mental illnesses.
- Johnson has a robust plan to invest in Chicago’s youth. Teenagers have been charged in many of the recent carjackings and robberies in Chicago. This trend reflects a systemic disinvestment in youth throughout the city, especially Black and Brown kids. Brandon Johnson’s plan for year-round youth employment will create meaningful opportunities for Chicago youth. Such a program has been shown to reduce crime: Chicago’s 2012 OSC program for at-risk youth reduced violent-crime arrests by 43 percent over 16 months. Further, Johnson’s plan to expand opportunities will also reduce youth interactions with law enforcement that can result in trauma and violence.
- The experiences of Laquan McDonald, Anjanette Young, and the torture victims of John Burge are just prominent examples of too-common violence and abuse. Brandon Johnson recognizes that the Chicago Police Department needs significant reforms to address ongoing misconduct and to gain trust within Black and Brown communities. Brandon has been endorsed by a majority of Chicago’s newly-elected police district council members and is committed to working with them to advance accountability, transparency and reform.
- As Cook County Commissioner, Johnson secured $75 million for violence prevention programming. As mayor, he plans to open an Office of Gun Violence Prevention and expand park and school-based programming. As mayor, Johnson will continue to invest in innovative policies that boost our communities and make us safer.
That is why we are wholeheartedly supporting Brandon Johnson for mayor and hope that you will too!
Want to know more about the problems with Paul Vallas’ plans? Read on:
- Paul Vallas’ plans center on hiring more cops and increasing arrests. While this may seem on the surface like a fast and effective way to stop crime, the truth is more complicated. It takes an estimated 18 months to hire and train new police with the interview process, background checks, and the training academy officers before they can get on the ground. This, coupled with the fact that CPD is already struggling to fill its vacancies, suggests that Paul Vallas will not be able to make meaningful change for at least 1.5 years into his leadership. This is not an issue we can wait on.
- It is important to remember that policing entails significant costs. Chicago spends nearly $2 billion each year on policing, amounting to 37% of city funds in FY2020. This huge spending on police precludes other important investments for the city of Chicago, such as social services and street and park maintenance. Likewise, the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability found that the Chicago Police Department was not using their budget “effectively or equitably.”
- Chicago has the most cops per capita of any city in the United States, even accounting for current vacancies. So, if a large police force was all it took to make communities safe, then Chicago would be the safest city in America. This is not the case. Simply adding more police while continuing to divest from critical community needs will not change this calculus. We cannot keep trying the same solution and expect different results.
Given these concerns with Paul Vallas’ plans and the exciting possibilities of Johnson’s commitments, we are excited to support Brandon Johnson. Public safety is just one plank of Brandon Johnson’s platform, and there is so much more that Johnson plans to do on Day One to keep us safe and build a better Chicago.
If you have any questions about Brandon, please let me know. I am happy to sit down for a longer conversation.
Yours in safety and solidarity,
Andie Linker, Rachel Doherty, and Iszy Hirschtritt Licht
PS – Early voting is now open in all 50 wards! Find your nearest polling place and GOTV today!