THE CHI-TOWN LOW DOWN: Chicago’s safety remains up in air as runoff election approaches

By Managing Editor

According to a March 31 Chicago Tribune report, homicide rates in Chicago are consistent with rates over the past four years. However, within the past three months, the city recorded 78 homicides and 355 shootings, showing a 26 percent increase from last year’s 62 homicides and 253 shootings. 

These new numbers come at a troubling time, as the runoff election is set to take place this week and may make Mayor Rahm Emanuel look less favorable.

While mayoral candidates Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia have neglected to address ways to strategically fix the rising crime rates by focusing on the cause—segregation and poverty—Garcia has taken advantage of Emanuel’s policing strategies, or lack thereof. 

Garcia has launched campaigns that pull at the heart strings of Chicagoans who have been affected by violence and he has promised to hire 1,000 additional Chicago Police Department officers if he is to take office. However, that strategy did not seem to work well when Emanuel did it in 2011.

According to ChicagoTogether.org, Emanuel’s campaign website, violent crimes were at an all-time low in 2014 since 1965. But that is not to disregard the fact that homicides and shootings steadily increased during Emanuel’s time in office and capped at 504 in 2012. 

Regardless, Emanuel has stuck by his crime policies. His campaign website even brags of his accomplishments and collaboration with the CPD. Emanuel hired 1,000 police officers and revitalized the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy meetings with the help of CPD Chief Garry McCarthy shortly after taking office in 2011. The CPD also launched “Operation Impact,” which strategically placed more police officers in higher crime areas across the city. Emanuel said he will continue to implement new policing techniques to enhance public safety if he is reelected, solely focusing on putting a stop to violence by using more police.

However, the real answer is in Garcia’s plans. 

Garcia’s campaign website states that destroyed communities cannot be expected to become safer on their own. Then the site lists the ways Garcia plans to fill vacant spaces that have become gang hubs and places where violence occurs. Garcia said he will restore the sense of community and safety in crime-stricken neighborhoods by promoting more educational activities, encouraging clean, well-lit streets, neighborhoods and parks and supporting schools. 

As media outlets predict that Emanuel seems to have a considerable lead over Garcia prior to the election, if Emanuel is to take office for another four years, he needs to take notes from Garcia when it comes to creating a safer Chicago. 

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