On Wednesday, August 11, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that police funding would increase by the next fiscal year after it was pruned down amid pressure from the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
“It’s my expectation that the police department budget will increase, no question. We have to,” Lightfoot confirmed in a press conference, per NBC5 Chicago.
Her announcement came days after two city police officers were gunned down during a traffic stop last Saturday, August 7, leaving 29-year-old female police office Ella French dead and her male partner fighting for his life.
Although Lightfoot did not make clear how much the increase would be, she said the funds would be for personnel recruitment and to invest in the health and wellness of the law enforcement officers.
“We have to make sure we are continuing to provide resources to recruit the next generation of police officers and make sure we’re doing that recruitment in a way that reflects diversity of the city,” she said.
“We increased the number of clinicians that work with our officers from a paltry three to over 13,” she added. “But it’s very clear that more work needs to be done.”
On Saturday, when Lightfoot showed up to the hospital where the second police officer was being treated, 30 rank and file officers present there gave Lightfoot the cold shoulder, turning their backs to her, the New York Post reported.
As Lightfoot attempted to speak with the father of the injured officer and comfort the nearby officers, they turned away in a show of disapproval.
“I would hope she gets an understanding that police officers across this city feel that leadership does not have their back. That’s what I’m hearing. That’s what I’ve been hearing for a long time,” said Alderman Matt O’Shea, Lightfoot’s hand-picked chairman of the city council’s Aviation Committee.
Speaking of the tragic event on Saturday, Lightfoot had said the fighting for and against the police must stop, reiterating her October 2020 statement that “police officers are not the enemies.”
“The police are not our enemies. They’re human, just as we are. Flawed, just as we are. But also risking their lives every day for our safety and security,” she stated.
Although Lightfoot had said she did not believe in the defund-the-police movement as a good strategy to reform the law enforcement system, the mayor eventually trimmed down the police budget amid more pressure after George Floyd’s death.
During last year’s movement to reform the police department, Lightfoot introduced her 2021 budget, which decreased law enforcement expenditures by $58 million and eliminated nearly 600 vacant posts.