Tom Dart seeks more money for gun violence initiative
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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart asked the Cook County Board for an extra $4.7 million Tuesday in the hopes of beefing up a program that helps to curb gun violence in some of Chicago’s most afflicted areas.
Dart is already planning to reallocate about $5.6 million of his roughly $584 million 2019 budget to the initiative, which deploys sheriff’s deputies to work with Chicago police officers in areas in the city that see the most gun violence. That money means an extra 30 to 32 permanently assigned officers.
If the county approves the additional $4.7 million for the program, Dart’s office will be able to add 20 deputies and eight civilian staffers, who go to schools, churches and senior centers for community engagement and data collection.
Cara Smith, Dart’s chief policy officer, said the goal of the additional funding is “to establish a permanent presence in areas with the most gun violence in the city,” namely on the South and West sides.
During his budget review presentation before the board, Dart said the “results have been phenomenal” and that the University of Chicago is studying the initiative and have so far found it to be helpful to communities.
Since its start two years ago, the Cook County officers have been stationed in police districts, including six, three and 15, where they stayed for about nine months before being moved elsewhere.
“This isn’t something where we are some type of special police force,” Dart said of the plan to address problems in communities. “The Chicago Police Department is fantastic, we’re just adding more people … but also a little bit of a different philosophy.”