Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is set to unveil a proposed budget later today that bolsters funding to the crime-ridden city’s police department as violence and gang activity continues to plague the windy city.
Last month, Lightfoot revealed her plans to ‘refund the police’ following the shooting death of Officer Ella French and the mayor’s rocky relations with a police force that literally turned its back on her when she approached them at the University of Chicago Medical Center following the murder.
While Lightfoot did not give an estimate of this year’s police budget, she said at a press conference last month, ‘It’s my expectation that the police department budget will increase, no question. We have to.’
She added, ‘We have to make sure we are continuing to provide resources to recruit the next generation of police officers and make sure we’re doing that recruitment in a way that reflects diversity of the city.’
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proposed budget will increase police spending
This is a U-turn from Lightfoot’s proposal last year to cut $80 million from the CPD budget amid Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer of 2020. The plan was later scaled back and Lightfoot has since denounced the 'defund the police' movement, but Chicago's police union since issued a vote of 'no confidence' in the mayor.
City aldermen voted 29-21 in support of Lightfoot’s $12.8billion budget last year, which she called her ‘pandemic budget’ and included a $94 million property tax hike and controversial debt refinancing to help close a $1.2 billion deficit.
It also secured nearly $1.7 billion for the police department, which cut about $59 million, or 3.3percent, and 600 vacant positions from what the department received the prior year.
Lightfoot laid out a $733 million budget shortfall for 2022, according to the Chicago Tribune. Thanks to roughly $2billion in one-time funding from the federal American Rescue Plan, and in addition to refinancing outstanding debt, Lightfoot does not project property taxes to increase by much in the new budget.
Chicago’s property tax levy is expected to rise by $76.5million, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, but Lightfoot will hold the line on all other taxes, fines and fees.
Chicago has seen an influx in violent crime throughout 2021 and many have said they don’t have faith in Lightfoot to stem the tide.
Chicago has seen an influx in violent crime throughout 2021 and this year through September 12, the most recent statistics from the CPD, most crime has spiked since last year during the same period
This year through September 12, the most recent statistics from the CPD, most crime has spiked since last year during the same period. Overall, however, crime has dropped by 6percent with 30,318 incidents this year and 32,190 last year.
But criminal sexual assault saw the greatest rise - 27percent - with 1,449 incidents this year and 1,139 the prior year. The next highest spike is seen in theft rates, which rose by 10percent this year with 8,176 incidents as opposed to last year's 7,409.
John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge #7, told Fox News in August that Lightfoot's tough on cops, soft on crime approach has emboldened criminals like the killer who shot and killed Ella French, 29.
He also defended the decision by dozens of officers to turn their backs on the mayor as she approached them at University of Chicago Medical Center following the murder.
‘She’s a flag in the wind,’ Catanzara said, suggesting that Lightfoot lacks any political backbone. ‘For two-and-a-half years that she’s been mayor, she has vilified the police. Now because the political climate says that the defund policy and the police aren’t the enemy - now she has to pivot and now she has to be our best friend? It’s too damn late.’
He added: ‘The men and women of this police department have no respect for this mayor and it was as palpable as you could possibly imagine outside that hospital at the University of Chicago.’
Catanzara said that Lightfoot was told by the grieving family of the fallen officer, Ella French, not to speak to them and the father of the surviving cop - whose name has not been released - confronted Lightfoot to tell her she had 'blood on her hands.'
Chicago police officers turned their backs as Lightfoot tried to approach them during a vigil held at the University of Chicago Medical Center following the shooting of two police officers