Alderman George Cardenas of the 12th ward proposed on Friday a new five dollar fee on homeowners and small business owners that would raise $70 million to hire 700 additional police officers. Cardenas wants to hire more cops to help keep Chicagoans safe especially with the rash of shootings that occurred this year.
However, not everyone is on board with his plan. Police Superintendent McCarthy says that there are enough cops in Chicago that there is no need for a fee to hire more. McCarthy claims that there are over 600 police officers on desk-duty, who could be better used on the streets.
Cardenas is not the first Chicago government official to ask for more police officers either. Before talks of a fee for extra cops ever became news, Mayor Emanuel promised to hire 1000 more cops. However, only 127 have been hired to date and there is an estimated 550 retiring at the end of this year alone. So, that plan is falling short.
Alderman Cardenas wants the extra cops to patrol the streets especially with Chicago's homicide rate being the highest in the country. Yet, do we need more cops? Do more cops equal lower crime rates? Let's look at our fellow urban centers, LA and New York.
Chicago has the second highest police force in the country behind New York, and CPD is currently 1000 below capacity. New York has more cops than we do, but a lower homicide rate and a larger population. Los Angeles has less police officers, a lower homicide rate, and more people than Chicago. So, more cops don't necessarily mean a safer urban area.
What is important to note is that in Chicago, over the past year alone, an extra 15,000+ people fell below the poverty line, and poverty begets crime. So, maybe if this fee passes City Hall, the proceeds could go towards police-oriented anti-crime programs like D.A.R.E. that empower the people and allow for better police integration into high-need neighborhoods. These programs could focus on gun violence and the serious repercussions that come when you fire a gun. So, that maybe next year we have less people dying in our streets.
So, yes we do need more cops, but not necessarily patrolling a beat harassing brown and black youth. Since the police already are doing that, it is also important to have police officers on desk duty, because half of police work is the paperwork to make sure that any arrests or confiscations are recorded and noted according to the book. We can't just have a bunch of police officers running around minority neighborhoods, where the shootings are primarily taking place, harassing the people of the neighborhood without any accountability. However, we do need them in those neighborhoods, but not in antagonistic roles. The people of the neighborhood need to trust them. Trust isn't going to come from making an area look like a militarized zone, but rather from programs that show that the police officers care about the neighborhood and the people in it.
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