Chicago aldermen call for accountability on crime as City Council holds hearing on $1.9B CPD budget

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Police Supt. David Brown was in the hot seat Monday as the city council scrutinized the department's proposed budget for next year.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proposed police department budget increases to $1.9 billion next year, and with crime still a major concern, members of the city council demanded to know how that money will be spent. The city's top cop faced questions about shootings, carjackings and the struggle to recruit new police officers.

Supt. Brown defended his department, saying they have made 1,000 arrests for carjackings, saw success in reducing homicides and shootings where they piloted summer neighborhood initiatives, and are taking illegal guns off the street.

"That should be clear, that our officers are risking their lives to protect the citizens," Brown said.

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But, he said, they are struggling to recruit new officers.

"Millennials and Gen Z's don't see this as an attractive job," Brown said. "The more we beat up on police, the more difficult it is to recruit people for this job."

Police said they have 1,000 vacancies but they need 10,000 people to apply to find enough qualified recruits. At the moment, only 5,800 people have signed up for the upcoming tests.

But the city continues to be plagued by brazen shootings. On Saturday night, a man was seen shooting up several cars at the same intersection where Lightfoot and Brown held an outdoor roll call just 30 minutes earlier.

"We are in a public safety crisis," said Ald. Matt O'Shea, 19th Ward. "I don't know what the per capita numbers are, but Chicago is the most dangerous city in the country."

"My concern is that if enough bad headlines continue, we're going to struggle to attract those 15 or so million tourists we depend on every year to pay our bills," added Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward.

Before the budget hearings, some aldermen and community organizers called for the cancellation of the ShotSpotter contract, saying the money should be spent helping communities impacted by violence. The superintendent defended it.

"If one life is saved, we should keep that tool in our toolbox," Brown said.

Brown continued to express frustration with the courts for what he called a "catch and release" policy for those caught with guns, saying it works with fish, but not gun offenders.

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