Chicago is now offering a cash for cameras scheme so that residents can be the city’s ‘eyes and ears’ amid soaring crime rates not seen by the area in four years.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the $5.3 million program will aid detectives and officers by providing home security and doorbell footage, despite previously proposing to slash $80 million from the Chicago Police Department budget in 2020 during the Defund the Police protests.
In order to be eligible for the cash, which is up for grabs to homes and business owners, people must register their surveillance gear with the city record, ABC 7 Chicago reports.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the $5.3 million program will aid detectives and officers by providing home security and doorbell footage
Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown at a briefing said: ‘Video evidence helps identify suspects.
‘It helps officers know what occurred and when it occurred when there’s not witnesses.
‘And video evidence helps determine charges.’
In ABC 7’s report, Lightfoot said: ‘By having existing businesses and residents register their cameras, you are literally becoming our eyes and ears.
Lightfoot said: ‘I encourage our residents to take advantage of these initiatives and join us in improving community safety across our great city’
‘What this does is give us a tool that when something happens in a particular area that detectives and other police officers will know where to look to find camera footage.’
In a press statement the city mayor added: ‘Through these bold new initiatives, all of our residents can play a critical role in keeping our communities safe.
‘By increasing visibility on our blocks through lights and cameras and getting guns out of the hands of dangerous people, we will empower residents with the necessary tools to build a safer city for us all.
‘I encourage our residents to take advantage of these initiatives and join us in improving community safety across our great city.’
It comes amid a frightening surge in crime in the Windy City.
Barely four months in, the latest crime statistics show that this year has seen 3,778 complaints of theft already – up 69% from 2,238 for the same time period last year.
Battery, burglary and theft also appear to be on the rise.
Sexual assault has also seems to emerge as a growing problem, with 489 complaints this year to date – up from 476 same time last year.
Instances of shootings and murder however appear to be decreasing. The week from March 28 to April 3 saw 34 shooting incidents, compared to 47 at the same time last year.
Similarly, there have been 132 murders in the city in 2022 so far, compared with 139 this time in 2021.
The city has also announced for what is set to be the ‘largest gun-turn-in program in Chicago’s history’, the mayor’s office said, as it begins raising one million dollars for the ambitious endeavor.
The city of Chicago’s police department had been increasingly at odds with Lightfoot – a Democrat who publicly supported the ‘defund the police movement’ after the death of George Floyd in 2020 and slashed the force’s budget by $59 million that same year – since she was elected in 2019.
Lightfoot has since denounced the ‘defund the police’ movement, backtracking in August after the shooting death of Officer Ella French earlier that month, unveiling a new plan to ‘refund the police.’
The very next month, in September, Lightfoot unveiled a a $16.7 billion spending plan that boosted funding for the department, lifting the Chicago Police Department’s annual budget to $1.9 billion, up from $1.7 billion in 2021.
The plan relied on federal money to help dig the city out of a deficit that reached new heights during Lightfoot’s time in office, to $73million and outlined prospective funding new community programs Lightfoot asserted will help the troubled city pull through the ongoing pandemic and address the prevailing issues of gun violence and crime.
At the time, Lightfoot asserted to attendees of a conference discussing the proposed changes that ‘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’.