Warning that Chicago is becoming “almost unresponsive” to the “relentless drumbeat” of repeated violence over Memorial Day weekend, mayoral challenger Kam Buckner unveiled his plan on Tuesday to stop him.
Buckner’s plan would start by removing what he calls “unnecessary and artificial restrictions” on police hiring, including low credit scores, to more quickly fill 1,600 police vacancies that have forced a relentless series of canceled days off.
The plan was released after another predictably violent Memorial Day weekend, in which 9 people were killed and 42 injured from Friday night to early Tuesday. It was higher than some recent years, including the 37 shot down in the same period last year, or the 49 shot down in 2020.
Bucker pledged to bolster the ranks of detectives to improve a still-unacceptably high homicide solve rate and create what he called a “first of its kind in the nation” Internet Intelligence Unit to “combat planned crimes in line”.
“Carjackings, smash-and-grabs and murders are being planned out in the open – on social media – and we need expert attention focused on monitoring online trends so we can stop these crimes before they happen. ‘They don’t happen,’ Buckner said at a press conference in Woodlawn. .
To rebuild broken trust between citizens and police, especially in African-American neighborhoods, Buckner’s plan also calls for:
• Redesign CPD police districts to reflect Chicago neighborhoods.
• Improved community policing.
• Expanded use of “co-responder models” that allow mental health professionals to respond to mental health emergencies instead of the police.
• Mandatory release of body camera footage within 30 days of a police incident.
• City Council passed the more sweeping search warrant reform ordinance enacted by Anjanette Young, the innocent social worker forced to stand naked, crying and pleading while an all-male squad of Chicago police officers made a raid on her by mistake.
• Appointed a “Superintendent of Youth Engagement” to coordinate with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District “to ensure that all schools, regardless of zip code, provide holistic education with a variety of after-school programs that engage students in sports, music, and art.
• Work in tandem with the business community to create jobs and skills training for young people and double funding for the city’s Office of Violence Prevention and strengthen investments in “diversion programs and the creation of jobs for those most at risk” of becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crime.
Obviously referring to the mayor’s recurring public feud with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Buckner said, “Chicago can’t fight crime if our leaders fight. Every department and agency that touches our criminal justice system must work together to end the violence on our streets, not get entangled in small arguments that resolve nothing.
Buckner is the son of a law enforcement officer and a teacher. Several of his closest relatives are Chicago police officers.
He was also racially profiled and twice charged with driving under the influence.
This gives him a unique perspective on public safety.
Even more important is the fact that stopping the violence is personal to him.
“I was five years old when I first saw someone get shot in this town. I was 9 years old when I lost the first member of my family to gun violence in this town. city. And sadly, it wouldn’t be the last time,” Buckner said.
“As we were playing with our son last night, I thought about the incredibly young age at which these things have affected me and I don’t want him to go through the same thing.”
Buckner said Chicago can provide “both security and justice,” but only if it gets “new leadership” with a “path forward.”
That leader, he said, will be “someone who can bring the city together and has a vision to make Chicago safe. Someone who will bring a balanced approach to security and justice. Someone who knows this city, grew up here and loves this city.