CHICAGO—Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday unveiled a “whole-of-government” safety plan where law enforcement, city services, and community organizations work together to stem a likely summer crime spike, especially in the neighborhoods plagued by gun violence.
The announcement came the day before Memorial Day weekend, which has been the unofficial start of summer carnage in Chicago for decades. Last year, Chicago saw the deadliest Memorial Day weekend in five years, with nine people shot dead and 30 people injured.
“When I talk about a whole-of-government approach,” Lightfoot, a Democrat, said at a press conference, “[I] mean the fire department, the police department, the libraries, the parks, CPS (Chicago Public School system,) DFSS (Chicago Department of Family and Support Services,) and Chicago Department of Public Health.”
Nonprofit community organizations and faith leaders are also invited to join the efforts by providing young black men meaningful summer activities as an alternative to violent street life.
“We owe it to all of our residents, in every neighborhood, to bring peace and vibrancy back,” Lightfoot said. “Accomplishing this mission is not easy, nor can it be done alone. But we have an obligation to continue this fight, literally, for our residents’ lives.”
These efforts will be focused on the 15 most violent beats on the South and West Side, which account for over half of the violence in the city. Chicago is divided up into 22 police districts and about 280 police beats.
As an effort to get more officers onto the streets over the Memorial Day weekend, Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown canceled police officers’ days off and extended their shifts to 12 hours.
“I want to thank all of our officers and their families for their sacrifice and their dedication,” Brown said at the press conference. “Have fun over the holiday but know that Chicago police officers will be serving you and this community with everything they have, risking all to protect.”
One police officer, who didn’t disclose his name, told The Epoch Times that he wasn’t bothered much by the canceled holidays. “It’s a part of the job,” he said, “I’ve missed lots of holidays and birthdays. [It] comes with the territory.”
The demanding work schedule makes it difficult for officers to cope with life outside their job, such as taking care of their children, especially for families that have both parents employed at the police department, according to Eugene Roy, a former Chicago Police Department chief of detectives.
He has rallied nearly 1,000 retired police officers to help their working peers with errands and house chores, like getting children off to school, going shopping, and picking up medication from the drug store.