CHICAGO (May 25, 2018)–Following is a statement from Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus Chair Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) regarding today’s controversial Fire and Police Training Academy vote:
“Members of our caucus fall in varying places in the debate around the Public Safety Training Academy vote.
“Some members are choosing to support the initiative, citing the need for one centralized, state of the art location to help ensure the high quality, comprehensive de-escalation, mental health and cultural competency training we have long been demanding for our officers, as recommended by the Police Accountability Task Force.
“Other members will vote no, underscoring their commitment to prioritizing investment in community needs, including public schools, mental health clinics and other social support services ahead of the CPD, which already receives more funding than any other City department.
“We all share a sense of concern about the process that surrounded this vote. In the rush to move forward, the Mayor’s Office squandered important opportunities–and obligations–to listen to the concerns of Chicagoans and take their voices into account when deciding how to vote. We should never discourage the democratic process in the interest of expediency.
“While our votes are divided on this matter, we share a continued commitment to the movement for police accountability in this critical moment. The Caucus led the way on transforming the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and we will continue to work closely with police reform advocates to create the civilian oversight board that will help oversee the department. We also commit to continue to focus, together, on demanding that the Emanuel administration stop its pattern of divestment from Black and brown communities.
“We urgently need improved police training to reduce the prospect of violence and harm done in our communities, and to build a more productive relationship between the CPD and Chicago residents. But Chicagoans also urgently need real investment in communities–in a social safety net already badly damaged from previous years of policy from the Daley, Emanuel and Rauner administrations; in strong, public neighborhood schools with social workers, nurses and librarians; and in well-equipped libraries, parks and other public spaces where working families can congregate and build community in peace.
“The opportunity still exists to work collaboratively with our communities, public safety officials, civil rights activists and the entire City Council to draft an RFP describing a public building that can meet the needs of modern police, fire and EMT professionals while being a community-facing crucible. This space should also serve as home to a long needed, bedrock community policing program.
“The Progressive Caucus’ mission is to work toward policies that will build a more equal and just Chicago. We will continue that work, together, far beyond this one vote.”