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Emanuel Admits Chicagoans May Be Slightly Concerned About Crime

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 21, 2015 4:45PM

Photo credit: 2014 City of Chicago/Brooke Collins

Want another sign Rahm Emanuel may be the slightest bit worried about being re-elected? He acknowledged the disconnect between his administration’s glass-half full view of Chicago’s major crime statistics and ongoing concerns from residents that he and the Chicago Police Department could do more to fight crime.

Emanuel’s remarks came during a Tuesday speech and followed on the heels of announcements by his primary challengers. Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) proposed a parking ticket amnesty program, while Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia hit the mayor on what Garcia called a broken campaign promise to hire 1,000 police officers. Garcia promised to hire those officers if elected. "Without those officers, we will never be able to end the heartbreaking violence that has taken the lives of so many of our children," he said.

While CPD reports major crime numbers are down—they touted last year’s homicide totals as the lowest on record in a half-century—murders and other major crime numbers remain high in hyper-segregated areas of the city such as Englewood, Austin and North Lawndale. Emanuel has come under harsh criticism for crimefighting strategies under Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy that rely heavily on overtime costs and shifting hundreds of officers from desk jobs to the streets. Emanuel has also been criticized for intimating parents should be more responsible for their children and work to “instill values” in them. Emanuel defended his record on fighting crime but said more work could be done.

"The truth is that as much progress as we've made over the last four years, we simply have to do better," Emanuel said after citing statistics he contended show overall crime is down citywide since he took office. "Too many families still have their kids off the porch when it gets dark. Too many families, too many parents do not let their kids go outside because they're scared."

Emanuel is making a concerted push to re-connect with black voters who supported him in 2011; those same voters have felt the brunt of the mayor's policies during his first term.