Billionaire laments Chicago violence, donates $25 million to train leaders of police departments here and across country

Ken Griffin, founder of Citadel, and businessman Michael Sacks gave seed money for two academies at the University of Chicago to train police leaders and people who run violence interruption groups.

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Citadel Founder and CEO Ken Griffin during the launch of University of Chicago Crime Lab’s Community Safety Leadership Academies

Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin during the launch of University of Chicago Crime Lab’s Community Safety Leadership Academies.

Pat Nabong / Sun-Times

Billionaire Ken Griffin said he’s lived in Chicago for 31 years and is “heartbroken” that 21,000 of his fellow residents have been murdered in the city during that time.

Griffin is contributing $25 million to launch two academies at the University of Chicago that will provide six months of training to police leaders here and across the country and to people who run violence interruption groups.

“It is time to bring the data-driven revolution to public safety,” said Griffin, the founder of the Citadel investment company, during a ceremony announcing the two Community Safety Leadership Academies.

Michael Sacks, CEO of GCM Grosvenor, is donating an additional $2.5 million in seed money for the schools. University of Chicago officials said they need to raise $75 million to open them.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the academies are needed to help police leaders learn how to motivate their officers to deal with the public in a way that generates trust and respect.

Lightfoot said officers are often “hated” by the communities they serve and that it’s perhaps the most difficult time in history to be a cop.

Officers shouldn’t have to also serve as surrogate parents, teachers and social workers, Lightfoot said. Violence interruption groups that will use one of the University of Chicago training academies are better equipped for that, she said.

They can reach out to young men who can’t envision more than manning a drug corner, going to jail or dying, Lightfoot said.

“They are the shooters, but they are being victimized every day,” she said of those young men living in Chicago’s most violent communities.

The two U of C academies will offer six months of training. They’re separate, but police leaders and those from violence intervention groups will share a few classes.

Some of the police leaders will spend another six months in a fellowship at a police agency other than their own.

According to the U of C Crime Lab, private industries and the Defense Department have been sending their leaders back to school for advanced training for years but that hasn’t been the case for most police departments or violence interruption groups.

Research shows better police leadership is associated with declines in violent crime and officers’ use of force, according to the Crime Lab, which will work with Cornell University’s Jeb Brooks School of Public Policy to evaluate the impact of the new academies.

Sean Malinowski, who worked as a consultant on the Chicago Police Department’s Strategic Decision Support Centers, which are installed in the city’s 22 police districts to monitor gunshot detectors, surveillance cameras and other intelligence to fight crime, will run the police leadership academy along with Sandy Jo MacArthur. They are both former Los Angeles Police Department leaders.

Griffin had previously donated $10 million to improve the Chicago Police Department’s crime-fighting technology.

Some of that money was used to develop an Area Tech Center at the Area South detective headquarters at 727 E. 111th St. Similar centers are now located in each of the city’s five detective headquarters. They allow detectives to process video from public and private sources to use as evidence in crimes.

Griffin is a trustee of the University of Chicago, to which he donated $125 million for scholarships and research in the economics department in 2017.

The previous year, Griffin gave the city $12 million to develop bike and pedestrian paths on the lakefront trail and another $3 million to build soccer fields across Chicago.

Currently, he’s in the thick of the Illinois gubernatorial election, providing Republican candidate Richard Irvin with millions of dollars in his bid to unseat Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

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