CHICAGO – Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago police Supt. David Brown held a press conference Tuesday to outline how they plan to improve public safety in the city during 2022.
Much of Tuesday’s talk about public safety goals centered on visibility, engagement and collaboration with the community. Those goals include tripling positive interactions with Chicago residents to $1.5 million over the next 12 months and working on affordable housing, quality mental healthcare and drug treatment services. The objectives are part of an ongoing effort by city officials to intervene early in people’s lives in hopes of breaking a cycle of violence Chicago has seen for many years.
Among other measures to be taken this year is an increase in detectives within the city.
WGN News has learned that about 100 officers will complete detective training by the middle of January, and another 100 will do so in early March. The move would bring detective ranks up to 1,300 – which city officials hope will improve clearance rates as it relates to crime. Areas with the most violent crime, including Chicago’s downtown and South Side, are expected to house additional personnel.
While 12,000 guns were recovered in Chicago last year, 2021 ended an increase in murder up by 4%, criminal sexual assault up by 28% and shootings up by 9%, compared to 2020’s numbers.
Both Brown and Lightfoot reemphasized Tuesday that they need more help from legislators in keeping criminals behinds bars, adding that guns are still a huge issue.
“It’s like the gateway. It’s the illegal gun possession. It’s not grandpa with his firearm brought home from the war. Illegal gun possession is driving violence in our city. Over 90% of violence is illegal gun possession used in a way that harms,” Lightfoot said.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Brown also stated that the police department hopes to double the number of people applying to be officers in the city.
Law enforcement officials hope to get 14,000 applications by the end of this year. According to Brown, a dedicated recruiting team helped garner 7,200 applications during the last six months of 2021. Chicago police hope that the recruiting team, and a new online testing portal for city police applicants, will up the numbers and help replace the hundreds of officers who resigned or retired during 2021.