Aug 3, 2023 - News

Examining Mayor Brandon Johnson's plan for public safety

Illustration of a star-shaped spotlight on a police hat.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Public safety makes up a massive part of Mayor Brandon Johnson's newly released transition report, which we're dissecting this week to better understand the "blueprint" for the city's future.

Why it matters: Chicago is notorious for violent crime, which has been cited by big businesses and residents as a reason for leaving the city.

Driving the news: Johnson has promised to take a holistic approach to reducing crime, especially gun violence. He's expected to name a new police superintendent next week.

The scope: The public safety report features five overarching goals and hundreds of recommendations, metrics and milestones, some of which have already been implemented.

  • It focuses mainly on holding the Chicago Police Department accountable and supporting marginalized communities.

Committee members: This group is made up of reformers and social justice experts like Kathryn Bocanegra, state Sen. Robert Peters and former Chicago police director Robert Boik.

The big goal: Improve public safety by improving public confidence in police.

Intriguing recommendations: Establish a new mayor's office of community safety.

Reality check: This has already started. Mayor Lori Lightfoot created a similar office, which stumbled at times.

More recommendations: Recruit, train and promote 200 new detectives from within the department.

Between the lines: Johnson campaigned on this effort as a way to improve the dismal homicide clearance rate, which is far lower in Black communities than white ones.

Goal 2: Expand services for victims and survivors of violence — individuals who've largely been overlooked in violence prevention efforts in the past.

Intriguing recommendations: Turn shuttered and neglected buildings scattered across Chicago into safe havens for survivors of violence.

  • Develop and launch a public education campaign on the effects of violence exposure and how to access community-based services.

What they're saying: The committee lambastes the city and the police force in the report, calling existing policies racist and imploring current leaders to "acknowledge that the government played a role and is directly responsible for the state of violence in our city."

  • "It is also true that public safety gains will only be achieved by giving most impacted communities a meaningful voice in the creation of public policies."

The bottom line: The report addresses crucial aspects of public safety that are rarely addressed. But it mainly ignores policing strategy, instead focusing on reform and accountability.

This story is part of a series breaking down key topics in Mayor Brandon Johnson's transition report, including immigration, transportation and environment.


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