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Progressive mayor-elect plans to tackle Chicago's crime surge by investing in therapists, social workers — but not more police officers

Chicago mayor-elect Democrat Brandon Johnson (Image Source: CBS News video screenshot)

Chicago mayor-elect Democrat Brandon Johnson told "CBS Mornings" on Thursday that he plans to curb the city's crime crisis not by hiring additional police officers but by investing in other first responders, including therapists and social workers.

Johnson, a progressive, squeaked out a victory this week against fellow Democrat Paul Vallas, who campaigned on the promise of allocating more resourcing to the city's law enforcement.

"In the past, you have voiced support for the defund police movement, and you have since retreated," the host of "CBS Mornings," said. "Why so?"

"It's not so much a retreat, it's more of having a better understanding on the impotence behind that hashtag," Johnson replied. "There were organizers all over the country who wanted to work within the confines of the system, whether it was body cameras, dashboard cameras. All of these implementations of formations that would ostensibly provide more accountability within law enforcement, and it didn't work."

According to Johnson, often the "only equipment on the scene [of a crime] are guns," and more resources need to be funneled into other first responders, including therapists, emergency medical technicians, and social workers.

"If defunding the police isn't the answer, what do you plan to do with your resources? Is it less money or more money to police departments?" Johnson was asked.

"It's more money to the areas of need," Johnson stated. "We're working to double the amount of young people that we hire. Not just for summer jobs but year-round positions."

He noted that youth employment and mental health services are correlated to crime reduction.

The mayor-elect explained that Chicago has been promoting a "Treatment Not Trauma" ordinance.

"First responders, social workers, counselors, EMTs, these individuals would show up to calls that require those types of interventions," Johnson said.

He added that nearly 40% of calls to 911 are regarding mental health crises. Johnson noted that 60% of the violent crimes in Chicago occur in 6% of the city.

"We're asking police officers to do their job and someone else's," the mayor-elect added. "That's not strategic."

When asked how he intends to pay for the additional emergency responders, Johnson stated that he plans to increase taxes for wealthier Chicago residents and businesses. However, he added that he does not plan to raise property taxes.

"70% of large corporations in the state of Illinois did not pay a corporate tax," Johnson said. "It's that type of restraint on our budget that has caused the type of disinvestment that has led to poverty, of course, that has led to violence."

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