The following is one in a series of reports based on an interview The Western Journal conducted with Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith. Smith is a retired police veteran from Chicago’s suburbs who currently serves as a spokeswoman for the National Police Association.
Click here to read the previous installment of the series, which details Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s failure to address the city’s crime problem.
As the city of Chicago faces a steady uptick in the prevalence of violent crime, rather than focus on efforts to reduce that crime, city officials and activists are pushing for police reform measures.
According to one Chicago insider, these measures may very well hamper the Chicago Police Department’s efforts to reduce said crime.
Speaking with The Western Journal, Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, a police veteran who worked for 29 years in Chicago’s suburbs, detailed how exactly these reform efforts could very well have a negative effect on Chicago crime.
“The most extraordinary thing she’s done on that front in the last couple of weeks is she changed the Chicago Police Department’s foot chase policy,” Smith told The Western Journal.
According to Smith, the new policy alters police foot chase procedure, essentially marrying it with the department’s vehicle pursuit procedure which, in her view, is “ridiculous.”
The new foot pursuit policy, which went into effect on June 11, restricts the types of individuals police are allowed to pursue on foot, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Thanks to the new policy, foot pursuits are only allowed if there is probable cause for arrests, if an individual is believed to be in the process of committing a crime or if a person presents a danger to the community.
Critics of the policy fear it will enable and encourage criminals to flee crime scenes.
Another problematic justice reform policy signed into Illinois law this past February put a ban on all police chokeholds, introduced guidelines for “decertification” of police officers and, most notably, put an end to cash bail.
“It’s going to be very much like New York where everybody is just going to be out on bail,” Smith said.
Politicians and activists in favor of abolishing such systems believe that cash bail essentially criminalizes poverty. Rich offenders can afford to be out on bail for some of the most heinous crimes while poor offenders are often forced to take out loans for minor offenses.
Supporters of cash bail believe the situation isn’t so cut and dried, however. In their view, judges should be given the freedom and discretion to decide which offenders are more or less of a threat to public safety.
Shortly following New York City’s abolishing of cash bail, there were several reports of offenders who were set free, committing new crimes shortly thereafter, according to a Jan. 7, 2020, NBC News report.
With regard to the New York law, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said that judges should be given more discretion to set bail in certain cases.
“The law is well meaning, bail reform is well meaning, but there are unintended consequences, and you cannot just cut the judges out of it completely,” Hoovler said.
Overall, in Smith’s view, all of these police and justice system reform policies — which are currently being promoted by Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other left-wing Chicago officials — are only serving to hamper the Chicago PD at a time when it’s needed most, given the growing prevalence of violent crime in the city.
“[Lightfoot] is extremely progressive and — especially since last year, since the George Floyd incident — she is very much about trying to hamstring the police department as opposed to allowing them to try to stop the violence,” Smith told The Western Journal.
“Focusing on crime is not going to get Lori Lightfoot re-elected. So, I would guess that’s why she’s not focusing on that.”
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