If Chicago is to have a strong future, it cannot tolerate the gang bangers and drug dealers who terrorize and kill, Mayor Richard M. Daley today told a Chicago Police Academy graduating class.
The Mayor pointed to the City’s new gun ordinance as a significant tool in the fight against violence in Chicago.
“We acted quickly and responsibly and the City Council passed a new ordinance to regulate guns in Chicago,” the Mayor said. The new law went into effect July 12.
“Because I understood that some Chicagoans wanted to own weapons in their home for their own self defense, I proposed an ordinance that would allow responsible adults to purchase one handgun a month. I heard their views clearly and I listened.
“But, just as importantly, our new ordinance helps keep weapons out of the hands of gang bangers and drug dealers and others who shouldn't have them in the first place,” he said.
The Mayor told the new police officers that they begin their service at a challenging time for Chicago and its efforts to keep residents as safe as possible.
He pointed out that despite the national recession, which has slowed City revenues significantly, Chicago has maintained the number of budgeted positions for sworn police officers and firefighters.
In the last year, the City has put almost 300 more officers on the street through better management.
“You are an important part of this ongoing challenge. Without your diligence and hard work, we cannot make our streets safer,” he said.
The Mayor said that to keep residents safe, the City:
- Is working more closely than ever with local, state and national law enforcement officials to target gang and drug leaders.
- Has helped to pass four common-sense pieces of legislation in the past two sessions in Springfield that help in the fight against gun violence.
- Has put in place new strategies at the Police Department that target resources to areas that are most at risk of violence.
- Will do whatever it takes to protect the City’s young people – from after school programs to greater school security to providing positive alternatives to hanging out in the streets.
Daley said the job of a police officer in today’s society is more complex than ever.
An officer must both “catch bad guys” and serve at various time as community relations specialists, mentors and role models.
The Mayor told the graduates that in balancing these many and very difficult tasks, they must always draw on the training they received at the Academy and the memory of Officer Thor Soderberg, the Academy instructor who was killed in the line of duty last week.
“You have lost a teacher, a friend, a role model. The people of Chicago have lost a public servant and protector of the highest order. Thor Soderberg sent the new generations of officers into Chicago’s streets prepared for the hard job,” Daley said.
“We must never forget his sense of commitment and we must draw on our memory of him to fight against those who spread violence in our City,” he said.
# # #