Holy sheet. Arne Duncan, Obama's Sec of Educ, endorses Vallas! Super well written.
I'm not a huge fan of Duncan, but it took guts for him, as an African American, to endorse Vallas. His thoughts below are brilliant.
Other minorities endorsing Vallas include Bobby Rush, Aldermen Michelle Harris, Anthony Beale, David Moore, Derrick Curtis, Emma Mitts, Walter Burnett, Roderick Sawyer and Jones.
Arne Duncan: Chicago needs a mayor who will tell CPD and its union the hard truth
By Arne Duncan
Mar 24, 2023 at 5:00 am
Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas walks to a press conference after attending a mayoral debate with oppo
Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas walks to a press conference after attending a mayoral debate with opponent Brandon Johnson at the WGN television studios, March 21, 2023, in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)
The biggest issue facing our city is gun violence, and one of the biggest barriers to addressing it is an ineffective Police Department.
For too long, the Chicago Police Department has had a go-it-alone mentality about fighting crime with big specialized units aggressively descending on high-crime neighborhoods like an invading force. The predictable result of this approach is lack of trust and angry, frustrated communities.
Worst of all, too many violent crimes never get solved. In high-crime neighborhoods, arrest rates for nonfatal shootings and even homicides are so low that people feel they have to take matters in their own hands. Absent real justice, you get street justice.
As Chicagoans head to the polls to choose their next mayor, the question they should ask is which of the two candidates is best able to transform the $1.9 billion Police Department from a demoralized, ineffective police agency into an accountable and transparent public safety partner with the community.
I recently wrote an op-ed for the Tribune outlining four pillars for reducing gun violence, including taking violence prevention to scale, focusing youth programs on the most at-risk teens and preteens, and partnering with business to hire from and invest in high-crime communities.
The fourth pillar, however — fixing CPD — is by far the hardest of all. I have worked with extraordinary officers and commanders in Chicago who have been fantastic partners with the violence prevention community and who risk their lives every day to keep all of us safe. At the same time, there’s also a deeply ingrained culture of passive-aggressive resistance to reform among some police and their union, the Fraternal Order of Police.
For example, following anti-police protests nationwide in 2014, police went “fetal,” as then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel put it. Following the death of Officer Ella French in 2021, officers literally and figuratively turned their backs on Mayor Lori Lightfoot when she showed up at the hospital where French’s partner was fighting for his life.
The union, along with police leadership, has dragged its feet on implementing the consent decree that grew out of the murder of Laquan McDonald. And the union has tacitly endorsed a “blue flu” when it suits their interests.
Changing police tactics, adding more police, promoting more detectives or hiring back retired ones won’t make a difference unless it addresses the bigger issue, which is the fundamental lack of trust.
That’s why Chicago needs a mayor who can tell CPD and its union the hard truth. We need CPD to take responsibility for its long and troubled history of abuse. We need to deploy police where and when crime is happening — instead of where and when they choose to work. We need to recruit good police, not just more police.
We need leadership to create a department that is sincerely committed to real partnerships with the community instead of just lip service. And we need to do all of these things while rebuilding morale in a department where retirements and suicides have both spiked. It’s a daunting challenge.
Candidate Brandon Johnson has been criticized for being too close to the Chicago Teachers Union, but he has suggested that his close relationship with the union actually puts him in the best position to get CTU to bend. As he said, “Who better to deliver bad news to friends than a friend?”
I agree with him. By the same token, that also suggests that Paul Vallas would be the best person to push CPD into the modern age and bring change to a toxic, broken police culture.
Vallas comes from a family of police and, as an unpaid adviser to the FOP and the union representing police sergeants, he negotiated meaningful reforms in both contracts. He also has not taken campaign contributions from them.
Johnson, on the other hand, has called for shifting funds from police to other social services, and I worry that the FOP would go to war with him on day one, just as the CTU did with Lightfoot after she defeated the union’s preferred candidate for mayor in 2019. We would all continue to pay a devastating price for that conflict.
I salute Johnson’s courage for running. I agree with his broad commitment to “invest in people.” If he wins, I am 100% committed to helping him succeed. We all have to unite behind the next mayor no matter who wins on April 4.
But, given the desperate need to reform CPD, tell police the truth and hold them accountable, Vallas is our best hope for a safer Chicago.
Arne Duncan is founder of Chicago CRED and a managing partner with Emerson Collective. He was CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 2001 to 2008 and U.S. secretary of education from 2009 to 2015.