Video & Transcript: The 19th District Police Council Candidate Forum held by Zoom on January 25
RESPONSES FROM CANDIDATES TO WRITTEN CHAT QUESTIONS AT ELVN JANUARY 25, 2023 ZOOM FORUM:
1) For all that have discussed the need for additional resources whether it be training or additional officers, etc…..can you tell us where you expect the funding to come from?? How do you see your role as advocate for additional funding from the city/state, etc….??
JULIE KAVIAR: Resources spent on the latest technologies (for example, the $66 million the City spent on ShotSpotter that the OIG reported does not work), excessive and unregulated overtime spending, and the hundreds of millions in misconduct settlements could all be better spent pre-empting violence through investments that remove social determinants of poverty and focus on those at greatest risk of becoming involved in crime. I would also take seriously my role as a community advocate and lobby legislators directly for funding resources. As Chief of Staff to a Cook County Commissioner, this new office would allow me to leverage partnerships between all levels of government to better streamline funding toward our common goals.
DEMERIKE PALECEK: Where funding comes from will depend on its use, scope, and numerous other factors; this would vary and is not something that can be answered with a blanket statement. If there is any funding which I need to secure for the 19th District, I will be a passionate advocate for my neighbors of the 19th District, whether that is in City Council, Springfield, grant writing to local nonprofits, or any other means. A program similar to district councils, GRYD, implemented in Los Angeles, led to a decrease in police misconduct settlements. This opens up additional funds to be used for enhancing community safety measures, as well.
DAN RICHMAN: The CPD budget is increasing by 64.3 million dollars in 2023. I do not think the issue is a budget increase, it’s a reallocation of the budget, to make sure the necessary funding is in place for training and hiring. As a district counselor, I will dive into the budget and suggest areas where dollars may be moved, so the necessary financial resources are available for training and hiring, which I is a priority.
MAURILO GARCIA, JENNY SCHAFER, and SAM SCHOENBERG: While District Council members do not have control over the city budget, we will advocate for the resources our community needs to be and feel safe. We are strong proponents of additional public safety workers like targeted mental health and substance abuse crisis response. We also know that we need better funding and investments in the neighborhoods and community resources (schools, mental health care facilities, etc). We will make sure our elected officials with budgetary authority know what our priorities are and advocate for them to find the funding that best aligns with the needs of our community. Our job is, in part, to clearly outline our priorities for City Council members so they know what and where the community wants tax dollars to be spent. Additionally, we know that there are Federal and State dollars available for certain programs, like updated officer training, and we will advocate for the 19th District and City of Chicago to take advantage of those resources.
2) What is your opinion on police gang databases?
MAURILO GARCIA, JENNY SCHAFER, and SAM SCHOENBERG: The gang database should be abolished. After attending and listening to multiple public meetings hosted by the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, we confirmed that the gang database serves no substantial tactical purpose for CPD. Police representatives were circumspect, at best, about any legitimate justification for the
database. In fact, it causes more harm to our residents—especially residents of color—by ambiguously and incorrectly listing our community members within this flawed network. With its ill-defined qualification criteria, poorly managed security protocols, and historical mishandling of access, we believe it is best for the gang database to simply not exist.
JULIE KAVIAR: Chicago should delete and outlaw the gang database. The gang database has been shown by Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General to be inaccurate, unfair, unproven, and opaque. It further contributes to the lack of trust between the community and police at best, and is used as questionable justification for hundreds of law enforcement agencies at worst. Creating a new version of the same thing is exactly the kind of bad policy carousel we need to get away from.
DEMERIKE PALECEK: I am vehemently opposed to any use of police gang databases. They are often inaccurate, and they unfairly and disproportionately target people of color. It is largely based on subjective discretion of officers, based on superficial factors such as tattoos, clothing choices, and hand signals that could be easily misinterpreted. It is also difficult to impossible to get off the gang database. If we want to engage in restorative justice and rebuild police-community trust, we must immediately eliminate the Chicago Police gang database.
DAN RICHMAN: The police gang database needs to be 100% vetted and it needs to be aligned with the consent decree on police reform. At this time, there are still way too many questions about the validity of the database and how it adversely affects marginalized communities to get behind this initiative..
3) I’m hearing that both real-time, rapid response and longer, foundational strategies are essential to tackling problems. It’s not an either/or situation. How will the candidates balance dynamics to implement change within available human, time, and financial resources?
DAN RICHMAN: In order to make these strategies work you need to clearly communicate what each person is doing to tackle each challenge. Once clear solutions are agreed upon for each challenge then you carve out how much time it will take and what the financial resources are to implement the necessary change to improve response times.
MAURILO GARCIA, JENNY SCHAFER, and SAM SCHOENBERG: In the short-term, we must advocate for the expansion of CARE so that non-violent crisis calls are addressed by the appropriately trained mental health response teams, and police officers can focus more on where they are needed most. This program exists and has proven effective, we must lean into its advantages and optimize the resources currently available. In the mid-term we must pilot and invest in violence interruption programs (and other similar initiatives) to help tackle crime before it happens. We
recognize the need for immediate response tactics, while not losing sight of how we can systemically improve our public safety system overall.
JULIE KAVIAR: Long-term, sustainable community safety requires consistent investment in creating real pathways out of poverty, access to opportunities, and addressing the legacies of economic and racial inequality. In this role, we can help communities be intentional about how they want to be responded to during different types of emergencies. That means giving a megaphone to residents in sharing their preferences for responses and being an explainer-in-chief to help everyone understand limitations and opportunities, that is the steps being taken or still needed. This role can also bring social service providers and law enforcement together to align resources, support the vast hiring initiative that will be required to sufficiently staff programs like a social worker emergency response, and build community connections between businesses and nonprofits to tackle systemic issues of youth employment through mentorships and apprenticeships.
DEMERIKE PALECEK: As a veteran who has been through the police academy and lives in a high-crime area, I understand the importance of rapid response. We must work to protect community safety in the short term. I am committed to working with other District Council members, police commander and sergeants, district advisory committee members, elected officials within the city, and community organizations, in order to ensure that funding is appropriately allocated such that this happens, while also building out relationships and working to secure more funds to tackle longer-term problems over time.
4) I know people are talking about getting feedback from the community and several people have discussed “collaborating” with police. I would like to understand exactly HOW people intend to collaborate with police so that relationships are enhanced and goals are achieved beyond sharing what the community’s feedback is.
DEMERIKE PALECEK: Beyond the required monthly meetings, I will utilize a variety of mediums to solicit feedback from community members, including office hours, neighborhood meetings (with and without police present), and online forms (with the option of anonymity). This provides a means for their ideas to be heard, even those who may not feel comfortable speaking directly to police about them. I also have several community events throughout the year: bookbag, coat, food and holiday present drives. Officers are always invited to collaborate, help, and volunteer. The average age that children start fearing the police is 7, underscoring why we need to start a strong trusting bond where people feel safe calling the police. I am proud to be actively involved in efforts that work toward this goal.
DAN RICHMAN: As a member of the district council, one of my responsibilities will be putting together monthly meetings with the community. In addition to that meeting, as a way to collaborate and build trust with the police, I would put together another meeting with a pre-set agenda with the community and the police. I believe these meetings would be a good start with collaboration and building trust.
MAURILO GARCIA, JENNY SCHAFER, and SAM SCHOENBERG: Our work will require sustained communication and outreach with police leaders and beat officers. We plan to build strong working relationships with the Town Hall police department by engaging in open, respectful dialogues to help meet our goal of having responsible, effective, and fair policing in our community. To date, we have been fortunate enough to speak with police officers on an individual basis and have been given strong support in these conversations once they have had the opportunity to hear about our platform. Once in office, we hope to hold regular meetings with officers to communicate information between the District Council and the Police Department. Police officers need to know and trust that our community is invested in their well being because they play a significant role in creating public safety. We are committed to spending the time and effort it will take to establish this working relationship.
JULIE KAVIAR: CPD’s elucd safety and trust score in District 19 averages about 60/100; we should have a higher standard of trust for a system that provides for the use of deadly force. In addition to policy and operational reform, this role must create easy and accessible opportunities to give feedback online and in person, and ensure timely dependable reporting on the issues shared. I would create opportunities for challenging but restorative discussions between residents and police through partnerships with local organizations that serve BIPOC, homeless, justice-involved, lgbtqia+, immigrant, and many other diverse communities, as well as with service associations, faith organizations, business owners, other elected officials, city agencies, health institutions, and advocates. In addition, an anonymous reporting portal for residents to share thoughts on crime, police conduct, policy ideas, and operational issues, outside of the police system may be more trusted for filing complaints or issues.
5) What is each person’s first “project” on his/her to do list?
JULIE KAVIAR: Listening and Learning Tour: Conduct a comprehensive micro-neighborhood listening tour to literally map top concerns and approaches to safety for each community.
Partnership as Process: Work with District 19 police officers to understand the ways they do collaborate and how more community connections can be built into their daily work.Implicit Bias Test: Encourage every Town Hall police officer of every level to take the implicit bias association test to destigmatize the need we all have to train more to outthink our instincts.
DEMERIKE PALECEK: My first project will be to learn more: I will continue to meet with the police commander and sergeants in the district, social service agencies, community organizers and groups, district advisory committee members, and other neighbors, in order to gain a holistic view of the state of policing and public safety in our district. I look forward to listening to diverse perspectives and finding areas for common ground, as well as listening to where people differ, in order to make our communities safer and improve police-neighborhood relations.DAN RICHMAN: The first project on my to do list is work with the community and police on ways to make the residents of the 19th district feel safer. Public safety is the number one concern in the 19th district. I want to make the residents of our district feel safe. I also want to make sure everyone who interacts with the police, no matter what their gender, race, or sexual orientation is treated equally and is treated fair.
MAURILO GARCIA: One structural goal of ours is to create an online surveying/polling system within the 19th district that can nimbly obtain public safety perspectives and priorities of our community members. This will help build a lasting and transparent infrastructure to allow our constituents to understand what topics are of top concern/importance to the entire 19th district and where they land in terms of priority order. This data could also be analyzed at the ward level, by those of marginalized communities, socioeconomic background, etc. so that we can ensure different groups of people are having their specific needs met (where appropriate).
JENNY SCHAFER: Our team has worked tirelessly to build relationships with many people in the community. The first priority I have is continuing to expand that network so that the District Council is a resource that all members of the community know about. We believe the strength of this position lies in people coming together. Therefore, for us, it would be vital to make sure we can have as many people who live in the 19th District be aware of this position and be prepared to engage with it in a meaningful way.
SAM SCHOENBERG: Beyond establishing a strong public presence for the District Council with my co-Council members, I want to ensure that the District Councils nominate strong community advocates to the citywide Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. This body has authority over CPD policy and key personnel decisions, and they are designed to be nominated from the democratically elected District Council members throughout Chicago. I have been pleased by the independent and hardworking interim Community Commission, and would strive during our first several months in office to ensure that similarly dedicated individuals are appointed to serve full terms on this crucial policymaking body.
6) What will be the relationship between the new district counselors and the 19th District’s District Advisory Committee. It has been in operation since 1995, representing the community.
MAURILO GARCIA, JENNY SCHAFER, and SAM SCHOENBERG: Building relationships has been the heart of our campaign. Forming a working relationship with DAC will be no different. We have welcomed the opportunity to interact with DAC members during our campaign, and we want to continue that dialogue once in office. Our overarching goal for District Council is to work as a community to advocate for a modernized vision of public safety that will create safer neighborhoods. Enrolling the District Advisory Committee’s shared knowledge, resources, and experience will be critical in expanding our approach to our public safety system.
JULIE KAVIAR: The 19th District’s District Advisory Committee, along with all established groups of dedicated individuals, indeed are partners in this work of supporting community safety and excellent, accountable policing. The experience of members is to be valued, as are the lived experiences of those who have not historically had access to share their views on policing and public safety. Ideally, there would robust collaboration and we would be a force-multiplier for each other as we work for the betterment of 19th police district constituents.
DEMERIKE PALECEK: If I am elected, I will immediately connect with the District Advisory Committee and work to collaborate and share ideas. Their experience will be invaluable to District Council members, and I will rely on them for guidance and support. I am committed to building a system where we can work together to maximize the support provided to the 19th District, including coordinating our efforts and hosting some joint meetings and events.
DAN RICHMAN: I am proud to be on the 19th District’s District Advisory Committee. I think the relationship between the counselors and the DAC will be a win-win and will be outstanding. The district counselors will be able to get a clear and concise overview of each beat in 19 and take and implement best practices for the district. In turn, the DAC will be able to see a new perspective from the district council, which will help it grow and improve to help make our district safer.