Signing bonus, down payment help on first house: Proposal hopes to keep cops in Chicago

Chicago police officers could receive $10,000 in down payment assistance to buy their first home – or a signing bonus to join the force – as part of an incentive to stop a mass exodus of police .

The Chicago Police Department has 11,680 sworn officers on the street, down 1,633 officers from before Mayor Lori Lightfoot took office. Lightfoot balanced its pandemic-ravaged budget in part by eliminating 614 vacancies in the police force.

Aldus. Matt O’Shea (19th) is determined to stop the bleeding.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, he plans to introduce an order allocating $3 million from the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund to help officers buy their first home and $7.5 million to pay those premiums. signature.

A $5,000 bonus would go to recruits with no law enforcement experience. This increases to $10,000 for officers transferred from other law enforcement agencies.

“We are in crisis. They run for the exits. They retire early. … They go right next to it. They go to Cicero. They go to Oak Lawn. They’re going to Park Ridge, O’Shea said.

“When you look at the number of people applying, people showing up physically to take the test, the numbers are horrendous. … In the past two years, we’ve lost over 1,600 agents…and they’ve hired less than 600.”

O’Shea represents a neighborhood in the far southwest where dozens of Chicago police officers live. He is one of the City Council’s most vocal champions of policing.

Last month, he introduced an order that would extend to the spouses of police, fire and ambulance workers who die by suicide the same survivor benefits given to the husbands and wives of those who die in the line of duty.

The proposed homebuyer assistance and signing bonus is another way to show police that the city is protecting them.

Aldus. Matt O’Shea (19th), featured at a Chicago City Council meeting in March, said the city needed to do something to stop officers from leaving the force.

O’Shea knows he’s clinging to straws. The real problems, he says, are the restrictions on foot and car chases, which have emboldened criminals and tied the hands of officers, and the relentless series of 12-hour days and canceled days off, which deprive agents of work/life balance that they and their families love.

“You have a young policeman. She has two children. And she learns Thursday that her weekend is canceled? It puts tremendous emotional strain on officers and their families,” he said.

“I wish I had a better answer to this. But until the police feel that they are supported – by the city, by elected officials, by community leaders and communities in general – I think we will continue to see this. And we have to try something to stem the tide. These officers and their families need to feel supported.

In 2017, Mayor Rahm Emanuel earmarked $3 million to provide $30,000 repayable loans to police officers and firefighters, hoping to stabilize high-crime neighborhoods.

It was a bust. Only a handful registered, even after the city council widened the number of eligible beneficiaries and widened the geographic area where homes could be purchased.

O’Shea’s version has few conditions.

To qualify for $10,000 down payment assistance on a home anywhere in Chicago, the agent would simply have to be a first-time home buyer.

This help would be a loan, with $2,000 canceled each year. If an agent leaves before the end of the five years, he will reimburse the balance.

An officer choosing the cash bonus instead would have to make the same five-year commitment.

Even with the incentives, O’Shea acknowledged it will likely take years to fill all vacancies in the police. Meanwhile, technology must help fill the void.

To that end, his ordinance would require that for every license plate reader or crime-fighting POD camera purchased by the local alderman with “menu” money, the city would have to purchase another camera or plate reader. registration for this district. (Each member of the city council receives an equal amount of this money to spend as they see fit on projects in their neighborhood.)

“Because we have fewer eyes on the street, fewer police, we have to rely more on technology,” he said.

The wife of a veteran Chicago police officer said bonus and deposit assistance was nice. But, she added, the mass exodus of officers will continue until locals and political leaders stop ‘nasty’ cops and officers are ‘treated humanely’, with predictable schedules. and a sustainable crime control strategy.

“They get emails at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. saying their days off are cancelled. It is absolutely absurd. That’s no way to treat people. They are treated as if they were not mothers, fathers, sons, husbands, wives. These are people with lives, with families, with children. And they don’t treat them that way,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, fearing reprisals against her husband.

“This is no way for families to live. … The right people are absolutely not going to stick around for this. … There aren’t any left on the streets. They can’t leave fast enough … It’s a state of emergency.

About Matthew R. Dailey

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