The City of Chicago is coming under fire from citizens once again as officials continue trying to push forward a $95 million police academy on the city’s west side as other institutions beg for funding. Most notably, Chicago Public Schools still faces a several-hundred million dollar funding deficit which opponents of the academy say would be well-served being as a way to bridge the gap for the city’s school system, among other things.
The proposed academy comes at a time when many departments across the country have pointed to ‘improving policing strategies’. In the wake of dozens of police-involved shootings and misconduct, apparently the west side location is a way to fix the malfeasance that’s plagued the CPD for generations.
Mainly, the concerns are in reply to the U.S. Department of Justice’s report on the CPD in the wake of the 2015 Laquan McDonald verdict, which stated that officers who graduated from the current five month academy are “unprepared to police lawfully and effectively.” It’s not entirely clear how the actual education given to cadets would change at the new location which is proposed for 4301 W. Chicago Ave. in Garfield Park. In a statement, the mayor’s office explained the officers and firefighters would “receive specialized, scenario-based training, get hands-on practice in real-world situations and improve collaboration in emergency response.”
The building would consolidate several buildings spread across the city currently including the current police training academy at 1300 W. Jackson Blvd., built in 1976; the Fire Prevention training facility at 1010 S. Clinton St., built in 1950; and the Fire Academy South at 1338 S. Clinton St., built in 1965. The insinuation is that the closing of three facilities for one will allow the city to streamline programs and training.
Construction is scheduled to start in 2018 and take at least two years to complete, officials said. The mayor’s office did not say how the facility would be financed.
“In the next two years, Emanuel has promised to add 970 positions to the Police Department: 516 police officers, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants and 92 field training officers. The department also plans to fill 500 vacant positions,” according to DNAInfo.