Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday that he plans to deliver a “major address” on public safety and Chicago’s pervasive violence in mid-September.
“It’s a complex set of problems that will be addressed in a very comprehensive way,” Emanuel said during an interview on Chicago Tonight. “Everything from our police, to what we’ve gotta do for our children and their safety, to dealing with guns, holding criminals accountable and making sure that we’re also providing hope where there is despair."
“I’m working with [Police Superintendent] Eddie Johnson on this and I’m Working with Lisa Butler [of the Department of Family and Support Services] on this, a comprehensive strategy to attack the issue of gun violence and gangs,” Emanuel added.
Chicago has seen a spike in violence in 2016, with 464 homicides and 2,848 shootings thus far, according to the Chicago Tribune. New York and Los Angeles currently have fewer combined homicides than Chicago. August has been the city's most violent month since October of 1997.
During the interview, Emanuel insisted that “police are part of the solution of making changes” and urged Chicagoans not to demonize law enforcement.
The mayor is looking to restore trust in the CPD in the wake of the high-profile police involved shootings of Laquan McDonald and Paul O’Neal. The mayor touched on the Ferguson effect, wherein officers are reluctant to aggressively pursue criminals because they fear being caught on camera or being demonized by communities.
“(Police officers) are human beings,” Emanuel said. “They’re conscious that there’s been a change. They’re conscious where they have now been somewhat demonized. But I would also tell you, gangbangers are conscious. They’re the first ones to know that police have changed their behavior. They’re the first ones to identify that there’s something different going on and they’re conscious also of the debate and the narrative around."
Emanuel wouldn’t say whether police officers have told him that gang members are taking advantage of the new environment, but noted that “police are an essential part of public safety."
Last week, the city’s violence once again made national headlines after Nykea Aldridge was gunned down on Chicago’s South Side. Aldridge is the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade.
On Sunday, Chicago police announced that two adult brothers were charged with Aldridge’s murder. Both were on parole at the time of the shooting.
“In all due respect, you look at the two brothers that just committed this horrendous crime,” Emanuel said. “Just out of jail, on parole, ripping their ankle bracelet off, priorly convicted for other crimes and they’re back doing it with no sense of moral judgment. The criminal justice system is undermining the public safety.”
“We have to take both the law and the police to gangs and to the guns,” the mayor added.
Emanuel also said “we can’t allow the gangs to think that they have the upper hand on police officers” and stressed the importance of investing in after-school and summer jobs.