Police as Community Partners
The police are overworked, and their personal lives are taking a toll. Last year seven officers took their own lives. This should not be happening. We need to support our police force with the resources they need, both personally and professionally.
Chicago has a reputation for deep mistrust between the public and the police force, particularly in disadvantaged and crime-ridden neighborhoods where help is most needed.
Systematic reform is needed to build trust one block at a time. We need to a path with milestones to achieve this goal. I am committed as your alderman to make this happen.
Deep and troubling issues regarding police reform in Chicago remain. Improper use of force, the costs of police settlements, a litany of shortcomings involving the Chicago Police Department’s federal consent decree, and persistently low clearance rates for major crimes are among many issues with the Chicago Police Department. Cases of police accountability are far from resolved. What would you do to address disproportionate policing and repair the broken relationship between police and communities of color?
This is a difficult question, but I would seek out the answers from our community. After all, Public Safety start with the public. We need to begin with bedrock trust and this trust is neighbors and friends in the community. A community that includes organizations that are focused on the bringing people together to make all or our lives better. We need to encourage and foster programs and partners to bridge of communities and police. We need to build trust and liaison with the communities and law enforcement. Only here can we rebuild the trust that is sorely needed. We need to create an environment that is not confrontational or aggressive. I would also add that mental health professionals be involved in the interactions with police in order to identify a crisis or issue before it develops into a use of force situation with such programs as Treatment Not Trauma.
Our police need to be embedded in our communities and have direct communications with our neighbors. The police need to be able to know how the neighborhood ticks. Not just activities between police and kids, such as a 3-on-3 basketball game. Often, the perception is that this is a photo-op or worse yet, a tick on a checkbox for some public relations report. We need to have our police be invested in the communities that they are policing. Trust is the bottom line when it comes to the police and the community. A Trauma-informed Approach to Community Resilience in Iraq is a good example of how we should approach rebuilding trust. Though Chicago is not Iraq, the tools to rebuild trust with a community are the same.
Community oversight which will have a hand in the police that patrol their area. This will make the community vested in each and every police officer in the community. When there are infractions by bad actors within the police force, the community needs to be included to ensure the police are responsible for consequences of their actions. And within the police force itself, there needs to be guaranteed safety and support for whistleblowers who want to put an end to internal wrongs that have long been institutionalized.
Reducing crime by creating opportunities for our young people
In order to realize the greatness of Chicago we need to prepare our youth. Too many of our kids—especially young men and women of color—feel like there is no hope. Drugs, street gangs, and guns have decimated our neighborhoods for too long. If given a chance, I am certain that we can reverse our current trajectory. Let’s not waste another generation. As alderman I will make it a goal to bring more businesses into our neighborhoods; thereby bringing employment to local residences. Focusing on job training to create a skilled workforce for Chicago businesses to tap into. Partnering with the trade unions to develop vocational training programs for our young men and women of color who garner the skills needed for today and tomorrow. We need to focus on technologies such as renewable energy. We need good paying jobs that will give our youth a career path out of poverty. Like the old saying “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job”.
Shutting the doors on city mental health centers hurt those who need it the most. And that has ripple effects throughout the 19th Ward and the rest of city.
The pandemic exposed the acute need for mental health services. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed half of the city’s 12 public mental health clinics in 2012. The result: people with mental health needs but no resources for private care fell through the cracks. This has ripple effect for the 19th Ward and all of Chicago. Good mental health care is not just the right thing to do for others: it is an investment in the growth, prosperity, and public safety within our city. As alderman I will work to restore the closed mental health clinics, and lead the way to open more facilities. It’s the right thing to do.
Safe places for young people to gather develops a bonding within the community. Engaging with our kids is the best crime deterrent.
We need to create safe places for our kids to play and socialize without being in danger. A place where they can be themselves. Some years ago there was a concerted effort to remove all of the outdoor basketball courts around the 19th ward (source Chicago Tribune). We need to restore outdoor public basketball courts and include lighting for our children to have a place to play both day and at night. We need to make sure there are other options such as soccer, football, and baseball. Our kids need outlets to play. Not just organized games, but informal games too. It is great that some schools offer sports, but not all schools have the capacity for sports and other programs. Add to this fine art programs, theater, filmmaking, computer technology, creative writing, and more. This will build a stronger and unified 19th Ward, develop vibrant neighborhood relationships, and provide our kids with the right kind of opportunities every kid wants and desperately seeks.
Schools as a safe and nurturing place
Schools play an outsize role in our community. They are a major factor on where families choose to live. Schools are the conduit for many community activities. As we have seen in our ward when our schools were threatened with closure, our families fought to keep our kids and community schools open and available to all. We knew the cost to our community when closing local public schools. That would be closing options to many families who would need to look elsewhere to raise a family.
As alderman any changes into our schools will be community driven, not by city hall and now be the alderman. These are our schools we demand to have a say in their future. I promise to you that I will not follow the footsteps of our alderman and consider closing any of our schools. He is on record saying, “if he had the choice, he would do it again”.
Our Village in the City
The 19th Ward has a well-earned nickname: “The village in the city.” Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood is a mosaic of many ethnicities, religious faiths, and talents. Our diversity is our community. Getting together to recognize and celebrate our differences gives our neighborhood a vibrance unlike any other ward in Chicago.
Yet, for far too many years we have clustered into our own tribes, which has been accelerated during the pandemic. Living as strangers to our neighbors. This will be the undoing of our neighborhood and our society overall. We have all heard from too many sources the hatred and the distain of others who hold different, even slightly, views from our own.
We need to make a change. As alderman, I guarantee you, bringing us together through art, music, food, and in whatever ways possible will be my top priority. Let’s get to know one another again. Let’s celebrate the 19th Ward in all its glorious ways.