Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What did police academy protesters accomplish with their screams?

I couldn’t help but be amused, yet also a bit embarrassed, by the reports of a City Council committee on Tuesday giving its support towards construction of a new policy academy facility in West Garfield Park.

Police Dept. would like to have new academy facility
The council’s Budget Committee heard from a raucous batch of protesters, many of whom were of the mentality that anything done on behalf of the Police Department was a waste of time and funds.

THE MORE HIGH-minded of them talked of how the measures being used to raise money for a training center, that also would be used by the Fire Department, would be better put to use to come up with more money for mental health and public education programs.

While others just talked of their distaste for the police.

Not that any committee members were swayed by such talk. The Chicago Sun-Times reported how once the protesters were removed from the room where the committee session was being held, the vote was taken and aldermen gave their support for the plan.

Specifically, aldermen backed a measure that would take some $20 million raised from the sale of a fleet maintenance facility on the North Side of Chicago and put it towards the $95 million cost of the training facility for police and fire.

WHICH WHEN COMBINED with the sale of air rights over an existing fire station and the sale of the current police and fire training facilities is expected to produce much of the money needed for the project.

A part of me wonders how many of the aldermanic types who cast votes Tuesday were emboldened in their attitudes against the people who oppose the police academy project.
Police dream of this new training facility, ...

Did the raucous behavior wind up strengthening support for the project that some activist-types were trying to say ought to be put somewhere else because they don’t want it in their neighborhood?

Humorous if viewed from the notion that the activists undercut their own argument with their rude behavior. But embarrassing if we view it as politicians being shallow enough to cast a vote out of spite.

ODDLY ENOUGH, THE one argument that didn’t seem to concern many was the notion that the $95 million needed for the new facility isn’t completely covered. The Sun-Times reported that city officials are about $37 million short of covering the tab.

Are people really that convinced city officials are capable of coming up with the cash? City officials say they’ll work with the Chicago Infrastructure Trust to close the funding gap – even though they admit it may involve the city itself having to sell (and repay) bonds to raise the money.

Which would mean taking on some long-term debt.

Not exactly the ideal solution for a city that has other financial problems to address and would prefer to take on as little debt as possible.

PERSONALLY, I DON’T have a problem with the police and fire departments for Chicago taking actions to improve the quality of training they provide to their officers. Such training could result in better-qualified cops and firefighters, thereby improving our public safety.
... replacing the current one on West Side. Images provided by city of Chicago

I’m also skeptical, in general, of people whose argument against something is that they don’t want it built anywhere near themselves. My three-plus decades as a reporter-type person means I have heard it made so many times.

One can always find someone to object to location. If that line of logic were allowed to prevail, nothing would ever get done with regards to any issue or project. In short, Chicago would go nowhere. That isn’t what anybody ought to desire.

But I don’t doubt that the people who got escorted out of a council committee hearing on Tuesday just before approval was given are going to feel particularly spurned. Which also is likely to make their future arguments against the project all the more intense and angry.


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