Mayor Rahm Emanuel will dedicate about $27.4 million to Chicago Police reform in his 2018 budget proposal, as the city continues rehabbing the beleaguered department’s image in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting scandal and a scathing Justice Department probe.
“With this investment, the city of Chicago is making a down payment on police reform,” Emanuel said in a statement Friday, less than a week before his annual budget address to the City Council.
The $24 million jump in funding compared to last year is set aside for “enhanced training, reform implementation, officer wellness and community policing,” according to the mayor’s office, which didn’t specify where the funding will come from, other than to say it’s part of the city’s full spending package.
About $17 million of the new funding would go toward promoting 100 CPD members to field training officers, along with a series of new hires. Twenty-six employees would make up a new “Office of Reform Management,” a civilian CPD unit tasked with monitoring and measuring reform progress, and acting as a liaison with a potential federal monitor — an oversight that Emanuel initially opposed but embraced this summer.
Additionally, 30 community policing employees would be added to the city’s current roster of 47 to help improve community relations.
Funding would also go to an “early intervention system” developed with University of Chicago researchers to identify “exemplary officers” and officers who need “additional support.”
Other upgrades touted by the mayor’s office include a 40-hour in-service training requirement for recruits that will be phased in by 2021, starting with a 16-hour requirement next year. Online training programs would be expanded, as would the continued expansion of body cameras to specialized police units.
Two of the mayor’s toughest critics were caught off guard by the reform funding announcement.
“I have been saying for quite a long time that it is absolutely essential that money for reform be specifically identified in the police department budget, so that’s a good thing,” Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot said, adding that she supports the heightened training measures. “But beyond that, it raises more questions than answers.
“How did they get to this number?” Lightfoot said. “Why did they choose some reforms and not others? Was the state attorney general involved, or is this something the city is doing unilaterally? There has to be more content.”
Responding to Lightfoot’s questions, Walter Katz — the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for public safety — said the plan “is not about picking and choosing reforms. It is about understanding that effective reform requires officers who are well-trained and that there is a structure in place that will ensure reforms are not only being carried out but are sustainable.”
“Soon there will be a consent decree in place with an independent monitor and the steps we are taking today will allow us to build our reform capacity sooner rather than later,” Katz said.
Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents rank-and-file CPD officers, said union officials “were not in any way notified of the mayor’s plans.
“While we would welcome some parts of this program, like increased training and more field training officers, other parts seem like more pandering to certain factions within the city that have not been telling the truth about the police for many years,” Graham said in an email.
“We believe it is time for some politicians to take responsibility for their failed policies and work with us to protect public safety by negotiating our contract and creating policies that will truly protect and serve the public.”