Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chuy Garcia: Chicagoans yearn for a safer city. No relief under current mayor


Media Contacts:
Monica Trevino 773-573-8667 (cell)/
Vanessa Figueroa 773-419-8967 (cell)/

Garcia: Surge in 2015 murders is stark reminder of failed Emanuel leadership
Says increase “doesn’t bode well” for Supt. McCarthy’s future

Chicago (April 1, 2015) -- Mayor Emanuel’s leadership has brought little relief to Chicagoans who yearn for a safer city, says Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, pointing to a surge in the city’s homicide rate in recent months. Numbers since January 1, 2015 show a harrowing 26 percent spike in homicides over the same period in 2014, according to new numbers from the  Chicago Tribune.

That sets Chicago’s murder rate back to the pace of killings four years ago -- just as then-mayoral candidate Emanuel was touting his now-broken promise to add 1,000 new cops to police ranks to address Chicago’s epidemic of violence. Shootings have also dramatically increased in 2015, with 355 reported shootings through March 30 -- a 40 percent increase over the same time period a year ago.

Those stark numbers drew retired cops to the 12th District police station today, where they joined Garcia as he renewed his call to add a thousand new officers to the CPD’s ranks to help stem the bloodletting. Garcia has vowed to keep the promise that Emanuel broke, as part of a comprehensive public safety strategy that would also restore and improve a community policing program that has also been cut repeatedly under Emanuel.

“This spike in homicides is one more intolerable example of Mayor Emanuel’s broken promises and wrong priorities -- and comes in tandem with more than 10,500 shootings and 1,800 homicides under his watch,” said Garcia. “Parents worry about their kids playing outside in every neighborhood in this city, while rank and file police officers are short-staffed and starved of resources. We don’t have enough detectives to solve the murders on our streets. These failures undermine both rank and file police efforts to tackle crime, and civilians’ most basic rights to safety, security and dignity.”

The number of police has actually fallen by almost 400 since Emanuel took office, according to payroll records examined by WBEZ. The news outlet also reported that cuts have hammered the ranks of detectives, which have fallen by 19 percent in the last four years -- with the numbers of evidence technicians and forensic investigators down even more. At the same time, the police department is registering some of its lowest murder clearance rates in decades.

The Emanuel administration has also been criticized for effectively dismantling the police department’s CAPS program, which was tasked with coordinating the CPD’s efforts at neighborhood crime prevention and community organizing to support that goal. Garcia has vowed to restore and renew community policing in conjunction with bringing on board 1,000 new officers, as part of a wide-ranging strategy to enhance public safety.

While he said the new homicide numbers don’t “bode well” for Superintendent Garry McCarthy’s future under a Garcia administration, he said, "I want to remind everyone that while I'm being critical of the Superintendent of police and the job that he's performed over the past four years, the ultimate reality about these grim numbers and the stark reality for too many realities lies with Rahm Emanuel."

Few Chicago neighborhoods have been spared from the costs and consequences of violence under Emanuel’s watch, with recent shootings in neighborhoods that range from Humboldt Park and Garfield Park, where postal worker Anthony Hayes was shot dead in his car as he prepared to leave for work, to shootings that left men dead in Ravenswood and the rapidly gentrifying South Loop.

Garcia has vowed to redirect half of the roughly $100 million the Emanuel administration has spent on police overtime in each of the last two years to hire new cops, an amount that will pay for close to half of the new police Mayor Emanuel promised -- but failed -- to add to the force.

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