Public Safety

Future Now Plan Susana A. Mendoza

Public Safety and Police Accountability

The Idea

Susana Mendoza was born in Little Village on Chicago’s Southwest side to Mexican immigrants. When she was 7 years old, a gang-related murder on the block where she lived drove her parents to leave Chicago. It wasn’t her choice to leave, but it was her choice to come back after she finished school. Susana vowed to return after graduating college to tackle the related issues of violence, education and economic opportunity, and she’s been working to help those in the community she grew up in ever since. Susana’s public safety plan aims to ensure that no family has to leave their neighborhood because they don’t feel safe.

As a child from a neighborhood victimized by violence and as the sister of a police detective, Susana sees this issue from a unique perspective that no other candidate for mayor possesses. To address today’s levels of violence and build trust between police and the communities they serve, Susana has a comprehensive strategy that tackles the systemic issues of economic disinvestment, institutional racism, criminal justice inequality, and segregation. Too often, we address these problems when it is too late rather than proactively solving the problem.

Susana’s plan takes a holistic view of the crime problem — not just hiring more police, but attacking the root causes of violence by investing in at-risk youth and returning citizens.

1) Revamp training for police officers

For too long, police training has been viewed as something we only do to prepare new recruits. We need to completely revamp the CPD’s training programs – whether it is pre-service at the academy, in-service with veteran personnel on a regular basis, and in the field where commanders should use everyday examples on the street to reinforce these trainings learned or relearned in the classroom.

We owe it to every mother who watches her child walk out the door, and we owe it to every spouse of every officer who walks out the door in the morning, to do everything we can to make sure they all come home safely – and that starts with better police training.

Susana is strongly committed to training and equipping our officers with the tools and the lessons to de-escalate first, rather than engage first.

Our police personnel need better training in de-escalating domestic violence situations, ones that can be as potentially deadly to the officer as they are to the victim.

Our officers need better training to recognize mental health issues when they arrive on the scene, especially recognizing when someone is both a real danger to those around them and a danger to themselves.

We should ensure that all sworn officers receive Crisis Intervention Training in the academy so that they can be certified on day one, not 18 months into their service.

It is impossible to train, re-train and constantly update the trainings of 12,000 police personnel with the out-of-date, out-of-scale training infrastructure we have in Chicago today. That’s why Susana supports building a new police and fire training academy.

As part of the construction of the academy, Susana believes that it should be turned into a true community hub with space for local nonprofits and social service organizations and adjacent parks that are safe places for children to play.

In recent years, CPD has implemented new tactics and strategies that are showing positive results. These new tools range from establishing district-level intelligence centers and leveraging technology to reduce response times, to equipping officers with body cameras and increasing the number of tasers available to officers.

Susana will make the investments necessary to expand the use of these critical tools throughout the city.

Susana will support the return of street violence interrupters who identify and resolve conflicts before they escalate in targeted neighborhoods under stronger management and oversight by the city. Previous efforts to scale up violence interruption work have not succeeded in part because of a lack of oversight and accountability for nonprofit partners. In Los Angeles, a city with a similar gang proliferation challenge as Chicago, the city’s violence interruption strategy is coordinated from the mayor’s office and better integrated with the police department.

Susana will invest in violence interruption nonprofits while bringing Chicago’s oversight and accountability standards closer in line with other major cities to ensure the success of scaled up programs.

2) Invest in smart community policing

We should all admire any man or woman who puts on a uniform and is willing to lay down their life to protect the lives of people they have never even met. Whether they are marines or soldiers or sailors or closer to home serving as our police officers, firefighters and EMTs, we should honor those who put their lives on the line every day. But while those who wear a police uniform are everyday heroes, they ought not have the warrior mentality of those heroes who serve in our armed forces. When it comes to tackling crime here in Chicago, there should be no “us and them.” There should only be “we.”

Despite the fact that they carry a firearm and wear body armor similar to what our soldiers wear, we need to instill in our police officers a completely different ethos – one the Obama Justice Department report calls a “guardian mindset.” Restoring trust between people in our neighborhoods and the men and women who serve them is absolutely fundamental to a comprehensive effort to reduce crime. Trust is at the core of effective policing, and Susana will support community policing strategies and reforms that build confidence in law enforcement.

Over the past few decades, investment in community policing has declined sharply. In 2016, Chicago’s community policing program, CAPS, had less than a third of the budget it had in 1999.

Susana will make needed investments to increase the number of officers in the CAPS program, build community awareness and relations into officer training, and expand the use of community stakeholder meetings to bring more residents to the table.

Susana will work with faith and community leaders to incorporate diverse communities into the training process, so officers can better interact with the neighborhoods they serve.

In recent years, CPD has implemented new tactics and strategies that are showing positive results. These new tools range from establishing district-level intelligence centers and leveraging technology to reduce response times, to equipping officers with body cameras and increasing the number of tasers available to officers.

Susana will make the investments necessary to expand the use of these critical tools throughout the city.

Susana will support the return of street violence interrupters who identify and resolve conflicts before they escalate in targeted neighborhoods under stronger management and oversight by the city. Previous efforts to scale up violence interruption work have not succeeded in part because of a lack of oversight and accountability for nonprofit partners. In Los Angeles, a city with a similar gang proliferation challenge as Chicago, the city’s violence interruption strategy is coordinated from the mayor’s office and better integrated with the police department.

Susana will invest in violence interruption nonprofits while bringing Chicago’s oversight and accountability standards closer in line with other major cities to ensure the success of scaled up programs.

3) Reform governance and policing practices to rebuild trust

Susana’s unique perspective on policing is grounded in her personal experience: she grew up in a neighborhood with rampant violence and experiences a similar stress every day with family on the police force. Susana will work to implement policies that increase trust and cooperation between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

In Chicago, police solve less than one in six homicides, well below the national average of 60%. This failure to solve homicides and shootings is driven in part by a lack of trust in the Chicago Police Department. Susana will work to rebuild trust in the police through a series of balanced reforms.

Susana’s unique perspective on policing is grounded in her personal experience: she grew up in a neighborhood with rampant violence and experiences a similar stress every day with family on the police force.

Through a consent decree negotiated with the Illinois Attorney General, an independent monitor will have oversight over police reform. These reforms will cover a range of subjects from community policing, to use of force, to conflict de-escalation.

Susana’s administration will work hand-in-hand with the independent monitor and Illinois Attorney General to ensure that the required reforms are fully funded and implemented.

Susana supports a balanced set of reforms to increase the role of civilians in CPD oversight. Susana will listen to the concerns of the community, including groups like the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA), while ensuring that the mayor ultimately has strong accountability and responsibility for the actions of the city’s police department.

Susana will negotiate a set of governance reforms that balances the need for a greater community role in police decision-making with the need to ensure law enforcement experts are able to develop strategies to reduce crime.

Over the course of the past decade, the mayor has relied upon a handful of staff to coordinate the efforts of the multiple departments that affect public safety. Susana will increase the amount of staff resources dedicated to help manage the many contributors to public safety, from law enforcement, to community engagement, to violence prevention.

By creating a new Office of Violence Reduction, with a robust team supported by staff members from every affected department, Susana will ensure that the city’s violence reduction efforts are being executed in a coordinated manner, rather than stuck in bureaucratic silos.

An external analysis of CPD complaint data dating back to 1988 found that small networks of police officers are responsible for a disproportionate number of complaints. This point was confirmed in the consent decree negotiated with the Illinois Attorney General, who mandated the creation of such a warning system. For many of these problem officers, their conduct worsened over time as early incidents occurred without discipline.

Susana will make it a priority to develop an early intervention system to identify at-risk officers before they graduate from the academy and to intervene with training or discipline for serious offenders who are already in uniform.

4) Improve the case closure rate

In 2017, Chicago saw an abysmally low 17.1% closure rate on homicides. That fell even further in the first half of 2018 to 15.4%. With every case that goes unsolved, trust is lost amongst Chicagoans and the cycle of violence continues.

Susana will tackle this problem with the following initiatives:

Future Now Plan WLS Susana A. Mendoza

Susana will prioritize hiring detectives to help close cases more quickly, prevent retaliatory violence, and get criminals off the street before they are able to strike again. Her first budget will call for at least 100 new detectives to bring the total to 1200 officers, and additional investment in the training and technology they need to be successful.

These detectives will pay for themselves by more quickly closing cases and bringing down the Department’s staggering overtime costs.

Susana recognizes that hiring more detectives is not enough to combat the low clearance rates, so she will direct the Superintendent to improve and update training that provides detectives with the latest resources to build strong cases as well as the skills to improve interaction with residents.

Additionally, she supports implementing regular refresher training for detectives that covers any legal updates, new technologies, and new policies and procedures.

5) Crack down on illegal guns

One of the core drivers of Chicago’s higher homicide rates is the sheer volume of illegal guns that enter the city. Susana has a strong track record of fighting against the influx of illegal guns. In addition to voting in favor of a 30-day waiting period for handguns, Susana sponsored legislation allowing prosecution of illegal gun sellers for crimes committed with that gun for one year after sale. She also supported legislation allowing for revocation of a firearm owner’s identity card for a parent or guardian who is unable to prevent their child from gaining access to firearms.

According to a gun trace report prepared by CPD, in 2016 Chicago police recovered 6 times as many guns per capita compared to New York City, and 1.5 times as many guns per capita as Los Angeles. In recent years, two out of five guns recovered were originally purchased from Chicago-area federally-licensed gun dealers. Susana will support efforts to pass common sense gun control and get illegal guns off the streets.

According to a gun trace report prepared by CPD, in 2016 Chicago police recovered 6 times as many guns per capita compared to New York City, and 1.5 times as many guns per capita as Los Angeles.

Susana will work with Governor Pritzker and Springfield legislators to pass common-sense regulations to crack down on the flood of guns entering Chicago from suburban gun dealers. Over the past two years, legislators have worked to develop a balanced approach that would require gun dealers to obtain a state license or certification and put preventative measures in place, including installing security systems, training employees on straw purchasers and other risks, and developing a safe storage plan, among other changes. Due to Governor Rauner’s opposition, advocates were unable to pass this legislation in the General Assembly. With change coming in Springfield, we have an opportunity to help push these reforms forward.

6) Supporting a public health approach to violence prevention

Data show that our neighborhoods suffering from the highest crime rates are also struggling with other challenges such as high unemployment rates, lower life expectancies, and other public health issues.

Susana knows that this strong link means the city must take a public health approach to addressing the root causes of violence in our communities.

To strengthen CPD’s crisis intervention and conflict de-escalation strategy, Susana will direct the Superintendent, Department of Public Health, and Office of Emergency Management to develop a pilot to deploy mental health specialists with police officers to respond to incident calls. Under this approach, which has been adopted in a handful of other cities, mental health providers would respond to 911 calls with CPD officers and work to link individuals in need of treatment to services.

Susana’s 50NEW (Neighborhood Education Works) Initiative will work to find and expand proven solutions that cross the boundaries of violence prevention, educational achievement, and economic opportunity. Over the course of the past decade, several innovative nonprofits have developed and expanded a number of proven violence prevention programs that serve at-risk CPS students. Programs like Becoming a Man, Working on Womanhood, and Choose to Change currently serve thousands of CPS students and have successfully reduced the likelihood of a student becoming the victim or perpetrator of a violent crime.

Today, the city and its sister agencies invest more than $11 million in these programs. Susana will maintain funding for these initiatives and look for opportunities to expand them, including by offering them space in community schools as part of the 50NEW Initiative, which is detailed later in this plan.

There are a number of programs that provide entry-level jobs in addition to cognitive behavioral therapy and social services to individuals at heightened risk of being victims or perpetrators of violence. From Heartland Alliance’s Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) to the Emerson Collective’s Chicago Creating Real Economic Destiny (CRED) program, Susana will build on these private and philanthropic efforts to identify sustainable funding for programs that work.

To take on violence in a meaningful way, the city must create a comprehensive plan with its county partners to address recidivism. Not only is repeated incarceration costly, failure to support rehabilitative programs in prisons can result in incarcerated individuals becoming more violent upon reentry into society. Building on models like the ACE program from the Safer Foundation, Susana will support programs that include prison education and workforce development to give formerly incarcerated individuals a pathway to stability and self-sufficiency.

In addition to reducing violence, strong re-entry programs would have a significant economic impact. A recent report by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC) found that with a 10% reduction in recidivism, Illinois would see $301 million in taxpayer savings and $150 million in economic activity.

Susana knows the powerful impact mentors can have in transforming lives because of her own experience at places like the Boys and Girls Club. In order to support an approach that doesn’t only treat the symptoms of violence, Susana knows there has to be investment in programs that give children in every neighborhood an opportunity to find their own pathways to success.

As mayor, she intends to build upon the successes of programs like BAM and WOW, in addition to giving mentorship programs space in underutilized schools as part of her 50NEW Initiative.

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