We’ll take those troopers.
The causes of Chicago’s horrendous gun violence are complicated, as are the solutions. But as an immediate response, our embattled city should welcome Gov. Bruce Rauner’s reported plan to assign many more state troopers to patrol Chicago’s expressways in the next two years. A stronger trooper presence would help make the expressways safer, as well as the city as a whole. And more Chicago police officers would be freed up to work the city’s most crime-beset neighborhoods.
More troopers can’t come soon enough. We are thinking here of two young girls on the South Side, 11-year-0ld Takiya Holmes and 12-year-0ld Kanari Gentry, who were shot by stray flying bullets just 25 minutes apart on Saturday night. Would the girls still have been shot had more officers been working the streets? Nobody can say. But even to ask the question is to know why Chicago needs a greater police presence.
As first reported by Mike Sneed of the Sun-Times, Rauner on Wednesday is expected to propose funding for two Illinois State Police classes, for a total of 200 cadets, over the next two years. Some of those cadets will fail to graduate, no doubt, but the ranks of the State Police still would be beefed up by scores of extra troopers, allowing more troopers to be assigned to Chicago’s expressways.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also has committed to increasing policing in Chicago, and much more dramatically so. Back in September, he said he would fill hundreds of Chicago Police Department vacancies and hire 970 additional police officers over and above attrition. The mayor also has welcomed Rauner’s help.
Rauner reportedly will present his proposal for additional troopers during his annual budget address. How the governor plans to pay for the extra cops is unclear, especially since he is expected to ignore his constitutional obligation to present a balanced budget — showing all proposed sources of revenue and spending cuts — for the next fiscal year.
But on the matter of troopers, the governor has his priorities right. As goes Chicago, so goes Illinois, and Chicago is going nowhere if it does not get gun violence under control. So far this year, according to the State Police, there have been two verified shootings and five unverified shootings on Chicago-area expressways.
When President Donald Trump tweeted last month that he would “send in the feds” to quell Chicago’s violence, nobody could say for sure what he meant. Soldiers and tanks like in an occupied country? But now Rauner wants to send in troops of a different kind, and we know exactly what he means — a little more practical policing help for a city that is up against it.
By all means, yes.
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