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Chicago alderman proposes $5 safety and security fee to pay for 700 additional police officers

September 21, 2012 8:27:07 PM PDT
Would you be willing to help stop the violence in Chicago by paying a new fee of $5 a month if the money would help get hundreds more police officers on the streets?

The chair of the City Council's Health Committee is proposing the fee to raise about $70 million, enough to hire about 700 new officers. This as the number of homicides this year in the city approaches 400, about 24 percent more than at this time last year.

Father Michael Pfleger led a march through the neighborhood near his South Side church, Saint Sabinam urging an end to the surge in violence that has plagued the city all year.

With him were professional athletes, community leaders and parents, some of whom say more police on the streets would help.

"Anything that gets more safety out in the street, get more police on the street, is always welcome," said parent Ida Brown.

"As long as we got more patrols out here to keep our kids safe so they can go to school, and go to work, and go to church and they can come home safe every night, yeah, I think it's worth it," said activist Jimmy Crump.

They say they would support the idea floated by 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas to add a $5 a month safety and security fee to Chicago resident's ComEd bills.

The money would be used to hire an additional 700 police officers.

"This is a good way for communities to kind of also pitch in and say, 'This is a bad time, this is a bad economy,'" said Cardenas.

The head of the police union says he would welcome the extra funds.

"Last year, the city of Chicago balanced the budget by eliminating 1,400 vacancies on the Chicago Police Department and you see the results on the street," said Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields.

The idea will likely face opposition, however, from some residents who complain about high taxes already, and from some critics of the police department.

"Why should we give them $5 more? I don't think it's fair because they're not doing their job as it is," said activist Lisa Wilson.

Father Pfleger is promoting a special basketball game Saturday featuring former NBA stars, as well as gang members.

He's calling it The Peace Tournament and it's designed to build relationships in the community.


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