PRECK­WIN­KLE: HALT PO­LICE ACADEMY PLAN

Also wants to scrap gang data­base

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY RACHEL HIN­TON, STAFF RE­PORTER rhin­[email protected] | @rrhin­ton

Cook County Board Pres­i­dent Toni Preck­win­kle says she’ll halt plans to build a new po­lice academy, dis­man­tle the city’s con­tentious gang data­base and cre­ate an of­fice of crim­i­nal jus­tice as part of her plan to cre­ate a safer Chicago if elected.

The plan to freeze the pro­posed con­struc­tion of a new $95 mil­lion po­lice and fire academy “un­til fur­ther re­view” would al­low the depart­ment to fo­cus on over­haul­ing po­lice train­ing be­cause “our high­est pri­or­ity is cur­ricu­lum and con­tent, not build­ings and ameni­ties.”

Preck­win­kle com­mended the ac­tivists who protested against the pro­posal for a new academy.

“When I was first elected as pres­i­dent of the county, we put a hold on our cap­i­tal projects to look at how they re­late to our pri­or­i­ties. We need to look at this,” Preck­win­kle said. “We need to im­prove train­ing, but the ques­tion is, do we need a new fa­cil­ity to do that.”

That’s one of the key points of her plan, called “Build­ing a Safer Chicago.” It fo­cuses on cre­at­ing a more ac­count­able and ef­fec­tive Po­lice Depart­ment by re­build­ing trust and bol­ster­ing civil­ian over­sight.

Mod­eled after a New York of­fice with the same name, a pro­posed Mayor’s Of­fice of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice would over­see task forces com­pris­ing city, state and fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, as well as com­mu­nity lead­ers and sub­ject ex­perts, who will be tasked with com­ing up with so­lu­tions to the city’s public­safety is­sues. Those is­sues in­clude gun vi­o­lence, ju­ve­nile jus­tice and neigh­bor­hood sta­bi­liza­tion.

Preck­win­kle says her plan to end the gang data­base is be­cause it’s largely com­posed of black and brown peo­ple though there’s “no cri­te­ria for how to get on it and many don’t know if they’re on it and there’s no way to get off of it.”

“It’s part of the cul­pa­bil­ity of the Po­lice Depart­ment,” Preck­win­kle said. “Peo­ple don’t know how they got there, and it’s used to dam­age their lives. That’s a real chal­lenge to po­lice-com­mu­nity re­la­tions.”

The board pres­i­dent, and Hyde Park Demo­crat, would also sup­port the adop­tion of the Grass­roots Al­liance for Po­lice Ac­count­abil­ity’s pro­posal for a Com­mu­nity Com­mis­sion for Pub­lic Safety and Ac­count­abil­ity.

That would mean a seven-mem­ber com­mis­sion com­posed of peo­ple elected by the pub­lic would have the au­thor­ity to ap­point the Chicago Po­lice Board, the chief ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Civil­ian Of­fice of Po­lice Ac­count­abil­ity and rec­om­mend can­di­dates for su­per­in­ten­dent of the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment, Preck­win­kle’s plan says. She has al­ready said cur­rent Supt. Ed­die John­son would be out of a job if she suc­ceeds Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Preck­win­kle also says she’ll in­vest more in the Chicago Al­ter­na­tive Polic­ing Strat­egy (CAPS). Ad­vo­cat­ing for more re­sources is also part of Preck­win­kle’s plan to re­build trust be­tween the po­lice and the com­mu­nity.

In terms of train­ing for po­lice of­fi­cers, Preck­win­kle said she’ll im­ple­ment the Chicago po­lice con­sent de­cree, which will mean an up­grade for the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment’s train­ing ma­te­ri­als.

At the state level, she said she’d ad­vo­cate for stronger gun laws, namely State Bill 337 to re­quire Illi­nois gun deal­ers to be li­censed with state po­lice.

“We have to have lead­er­ship in the depart­ment that ac­tively works to root out [the code of si­lence in the Po­lice Depart­ment],” Preck­win­kle said. “If we look at the dev­as­tat­ing sto­ries of ac­tions by Jon Burge, [de­tec­tive Rey­naldo] Gue­vara and Sergeant Ron­ald Watts, those folks were pro­tected by their fel­low of­fi­cers. We have to cre­ate a po­lice depart­ment where bad con­duct isn’t tol­er­ated.”

“I have been a cham­pion of crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form from my al­der­manic ca­reer to present,” Preck­win­kle said. “My com­mit­ment to this stems from my al­der­manic ten­ure to my role as County Board pres­i­dent work on crim­i­nal jus­tice is­sues.”

ASH­LEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES

Cook County Board Pres­i­dent Toni Preck­win­kle is re­leas­ing a plan called “Build­ing a Safer Chicago.”

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