Mayor Lori Lightfoot started the new year the same way she ended the old one — trying to convince fearful Chicagoans that reducing the city’s extraordinary level of crime is her “single mission.”
“No one can be comfortable with the way that we ended the year, with the number of homicides we had, more than New York or LA, two cities that have multiples in size of our populations,” Lightfoot said. “They all had an increase, but our number is staggering compared to that.”
At a marathon news conference at the Chicago Police Department headquarters Tuesday, Lightfoot sounded all of her familiar themes but offered no new policing strategies. She renewed her call for an immediate moratorium on electronic monitoring for Chicago’s most violent offenders and called on federal agencies to crack down on illegal gun trafficking. Lightfoot also renewed pressure on City Council to pass her controversial gang forfeiture ordinance, despite a Cook County public defender calling it “clearly unconstitutional.”
Police Supt. David Brown also reprised his end-of-year news conference Tuesday by promising to add a total of 200 more detectives to reduce caseloads from five to three to improve clearance rates. And turning the tides of crime in Chicago, the department will “likely need to break untold records” dealing with illegal guns, arrested felons and conspiracy cases.
Brown also spoke directly to increasingly brazen violent criminal offenders terrorizing Chicago with shootings, carjackings and homicides.
“You think we were just going to let you get away with killing people? You think you’re just gonna carjack people in this city and get away with it? Smash and grab our retail and our businesses who work hard to put products on their shelves?” Brown said. “We’re coming after you. We’re going to hold you accountable, and we’re going to keep you in jail.”
In 2022, Brown set the goal of 1.5 million positive interactions between police and citizens to rebuild shattered public trust, up from 500,000 in 2021.
Before the news conference, Lightfoot met with the entire CPD command staff. She said she challenged the brass to aim higher and wake up every morning thinking of what they can do individually to make Chicago a safer city, otherwise they should find another line of work.
Community trust in police, Lightfoot said, is the “secret sauce” to solving crimes.
“We can’t get there unless we’re positively interacting with the police,” Lightfoot said. “The police have to show up, not just when there’s an emergency with lights blaring.”
Lightfoot dubbed 2022 a “make-or-break year,” but in saying that made no mention that this year will go a long way in determining her political future. Whether crime levels fall this year is shaping up to be pivotal in whether Lightfoot will be reelected or serve as a one-term mayor.