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How Chicago Mayor Candidates Differ On Crime Issues

Two candidates with different approaches to public safety are battling to be the new mayor of Chicago, where concerns about crime are top-of-mind for voters in the nation's third-largest city, reports USA Today. Paul Vallas, 69, the former head of Chicago Public Schools, won 34% of the vote, followed by Brandon Johnson, 46, who serves on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, with 20%. While Vallas has positioned himself as a more conservative, pro-law enforcement candidate, Johnson has cast himself as a progressive who wants to strengthen police accountability. Lori Lightfoot, 60, the city's first Black woman and first openly gay person to serve as mayor, placed third with 17% of the vote, becoming the city's first one-term mayor in 40 years. Vallas had run unsuccessfully for mayor and for governor and lieutenant governor in Illinois. Last year, he worked with Chicago's police union to negotiate the Chicago Police Department's (CPD) contract, and he scored endorsements from the union and the Chicago Tribune editorial board. He's pledged to "return CPD to its core mission" and wants to make sure criminals are held accountable so residents can feel safe in their neighborhoods and "suburbanites and tourists will no longer fear traveling downtown."

Vallas would hire nearly 2,000 more sworn officers, including retired detectives and hundreds of officers to patrol public transit. Johnson, a former teacher and union organizer, is endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union and other progressive groups. He's pledged to address the root causes of violence, with a focus on education, jobs, housing and mental health. Johnson has said the Chicago Police Department must solve more homicides and wants to promote 200 detectives to that end. He's pledged to launch a violence intervention program for the city’s transit authority and establish a Missing Persons Initiative, a CPD Anti-Gun Trafficker Department and a Mayor’s Office of Community Safety. He also wants to strengthen police accountability, end no-knock warrants, fund reparations for survivors of police torture, erase the city’s gang database, terminate officers affiliated with far-right groups and work closely with the city's new civilian police oversight body. Chicago homicides surged in 2016 to a rate not seen in decades. Homicides were falling steadily when the pandemic hit and upended that brief progress. Now murders are down about 18% from the same time last year – but up 59% from four years ago.


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