Napolitano wants pilot program to relocate officers ward by ward
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Aldermen supporting the "Defund the Police" movement would be able to forgo a portion of police resources allocated for their wards so it can be used in other wards while those who oppose the idea would be able to keep all officers in their areas under a proposed program.
That’s the gist of a resolution that Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) introduced to the Committee on Public Safety at the City Council’s virtual meeting on June 17. It’s still anyone’s guess if such a move would be supported by a majority of the aldermen, but Napolitano said that it’s gaining some support. Others have called it a "stunt" in published reports.
The alderman recently spoke to Nadig Newspapers about the reasons behind the plan.
"The point of the resolution is that we have a handful of aldermen who are anti-police and I know it’s part of a bigger movement nationwide, but this will let you move some or all of the resources if you hate the police from your own ward and they will be relocated to other wards," Napolitano said. "And when the budget time comes around we can talk about how much funding they will get by having less police but more funding for social programs." He said the aim of the one-year pilot program is to get some aldermen to "put your money where your mouth is."
Napolitano, a former police officer, said that the city is facing too much crime and violence to be able to handle less police resources. He said that Chicago suffers from a gang and drug epidemic and that many residents fear for their safety when officers are removed from their communities.
"Crime is an enterprise in Chicago. It’s big business. If you relocate resources, or defund the police, criminals are not going to say ‘We better slow down, guys, because the officers need help, or they can’t handle it.’ No, they are going to come at you twice as hard," he said. "We have a lot of problems in society but violence is a human problem and not just a black or white or a Hispanic problem. We have had 25,000 shootings since 2012 and you can’t brush that off to the side as ‘It’s just Chicago.’ Gangs are out there thriving."
Napolitano said that he knows that the "Defund the Police" movement is not to eliminate police, but make no mistake about it, he said, it’s to reduce the police force, and use that funding for other programs.
"There is no Chicagoan on the street who doesn’t think we need to have more mental health resources, or social services and other programs because we really do need it. But you’re going have to find it from a different bucket," Napolitano said.
Napolitano said that he understands why people are protesting police brutality stemming from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"I come from a multi-generational cop family. We’ve talked about the murder of Floyd. And that’s what it was. It was murder. And there is no one I know who can say that this wasn’t murder. It was wrong," Napolitano said.
"I support ‘All Lives Matter," and I know what people will say, that it’s a cop-out answer, but you are not going to get me to say that I support some people over other people."
He said that to address police brutality, officers would need to be "constantly trained and re-trained" but that bad cops tarnish entire police departments who generally try to do a good job.
"But anyone who says it’s all flowers out there has never put on a uniform and went out there on the street. It’s a difficult job. I’ve done it," he said.
"Chicago is no Mayberry (from the ‘Andy Griffith Show’). We have crime that’s off the charts. If we didn’t have all these issues like drugs, crime, gangs, then maybe we can pull resources from the police department. But we are not seeing that in the numbers. We don’t have some utopia numbers to defund the police."