Mayoral candidate Bill Daley wants to create a Cabinet-level crime-fighting post and invest $50 million per year to staff a new City Hall department dedicated to reducing violence, he said Thursday.
Daley, who’s not alone on the subject, announced his anti-violence plan for the city with a statement in which he took a swipe at fellow mayoral candidate and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for not doing enough to crack down on gun crimes.
“County leaders have openly retreated from enforcing gun laws, and prosecutors and judges are imposing less than the maximum fines or sentences allowable under the law,” Daley said. “Gun shops in suburban Cook County, inches from the city line, send thousands of guns each year into our neighborhoods while the state and county do little to stop them.”
As president of the county board, Preckwinkle has pushed to reduce the Cook County Jail population by advocating for greater use of electronic monitoring and other sentencing alternatives to incarceration for defendants, in many cases for those charged with low-level drug crimes. That position has prompted other mayoral candidates to accuse her of being too lenient with criminals.
Daley said Preckwinkle would have to make her own case for her anti-violence ideas, and insisted he wasn’t singling anyone out with his criticism. And Daley said he wasn’t trying to keep nonviolent offenders behind bars. “Nobody thinks people caught smoking a joint of weed should sit in jail,” he said. “These are people shooting guns while committing crimes.”
Responding to Daley, Preckwinkle said she’s “made gun control and reasonable gun laws a hallmark” of her administration’s efforts over the last eight years but noted there are federal limitations, including Supreme Court rulings.
But, pointing to reductions in the jail and reform to bond court, she said she’s focused on “being sure that people accused of non-violent crimes do not spend the time between their arrest and appearance in bond court and the disposition of their case in jail so we can focus our resources frankly on those accused of violent crimes.”
She also touted her administration’s support for crime prevention programs including anti-recidivism grants.
A new deputy mayor for violence prevention who reports to the mayor is needed in order to put Chicago’s crime epidemic on the front burner, Daley said. “I want a deputy mayor every day in my face talking about what’s getting done to address this,” he said.
The Mayor’s Office of Violence Prevention and Reduction would coordinate with outside groups that are working with at-risk youths to steer them away from crime. The office would come with a $50 million budget, which he said could come from existing public safety funds. “Look, the Police Department budget is $1.6 billion,” Daley said. “Believe me, there’s a lot of money floating around in that budget.”
Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot last month outlined her own anti-violence plan, which called for creating the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety. Lightfoot said the office would oversee the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, a gun violence prevention task force and a committee on community wellness. Mayoral candidate Gery Chico previously called for the creation of a Mayor’s Office of Violence Reduction and Prevention to coordinate violence reduction strategies moving forward.
Daley’s crime-fighting package also includes ideas familiar from the efforts of his brother, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and current Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which have seen mixed results.
Among them, Daley wants to press state lawmakers to pass laws cracking down on suburban gun dealers who supply many of the thousands of illegal firearms Chicago police recover each year. And he proposes improving police officers’ training and taking the politics out of department promotions in order to get better results in the fight against entrenched street gangs that drive much of the violence.
Asked why he thinks he will have more success in Springfield than his brother and Emanuel did, Daley pointed to Democrat J.B. Pritzker becoming governor and Democrats enjoying supermajorities in both houses of the General Assembly.
“There’s no excuse anymore not to show leadership on this,” Daley said. “I get the difficulty for Downstate legislators, but call the question.”
Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt contributed.
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November 15, 2018 at 02:33PM