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Two Months In, Chicago Mayor Moves Cautiously on Public Safety

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s navigation of public safety policy within his first months as Chicago Mayor has been tense, as the police union has vowed retaliation while those who supported him expect him to deliver on his ambitious plans, Bolts Magazine reports. Since May, Johnson has created a new “community safety” office tasked with coordinating the mayor’s “root cause” approach to public safety. But he also raised progressive groups’ eyebrows with his pick for an interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department and when he left in place a controversial police surveillance contract that he’d pledged to end during his campaign. These were both temporary moves that he’ll get a chance to revisit soon. As a case study for how left-leaning officials try to sustain their commitments in the face of police opposition, Johnson remains a question mark.

On his very first day, Johnson signed an executive order creating the new role of Deputy Mayor for Community Safety. Johnson is now poised to make his signature policy proposals for public safety. Before, many of these policies were blocked by unsupportive mayors. Programs include Bring Chicago Home, a policy meant to create new housing for more than 65,000 unhoused in the city, and the “Treatment Not Trauma” ordinance, which would invest $100 million to create non-police crisis response teams to 911 calls when people are experiencing mental health crises. It would also reopen the city’s neighborhood mental health clinics that were closed under the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Johnson is also hoping to invigorate Chicago’s summer jobs program, which currently employs a little more than half of the 45,000 who applied to the program. Johnson will also need to engage with the police union, which opposes many of the reforms he has called for, such as strengthening mechanisms for police accountability.


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