By all accounts, Mayor Lori Lightfoot – who came up short in her bid for reelection earlier this year – was a disaster when it came to supporting the Chicago police and keeping crime down in the third most populus city in the U.S. So Randy Sutton of The Wounded Blue – the national assistance and support organization for injured and disabled officers – admits he was stunned last week when Chicago's voters chose as their next mayor former public school teacher Brandon Johnson, a full-fledged "defund the police" candidate.
"I am met with dismay at the election in Chicago," Sutton tells AFN. "I would have sworn that the people of Chicago had had enough of the madness of Lori Lightfoot and her disturbed policies."
Johnson beat fellow Democrat Paul Vallas in a close runoff on April 4. He takes office on May 15.
"The voters had a very, very clear choice here," Sutton continues, "and they opted for somebody who shows all the evidence of being worse than Lori Lightfoot when it comes to public safety, not better. It's mindboggling to me."
Chicago has been dealing with a rampant crime problem for decades, and the city's residents may have thought the violence problem was unfixable. It's likely, says Sutton, they voted for the candidate who promised the most "stuff" during the campaign – half of which, he adds, the incoming mayor probably isn't going to be able to deliver.
Help for the hurting
According to Sutton, it's becoming increasingly difficult to navigate a law enforcement career as hostility toward the police seems to increase by the day. Blatant attacks and ambushes on police officers, he says, are happening more and more often.
"We have seen the increased danger to law enforcement officers. Literally, since the first of the year, almost every single day has seen the shooting of another police officer," he laments.
And the injuries an officer can sustain in the line of duty go beyond just physical, says the law enforcement veteran. "It's every aspect of surviving a law enforcement career: physically, tactically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, relationships, financially," Sutton lists.
Aligning with the group's focus, The Wounded Blue is inviting law enforcement officers and their spouses to a conference this fall designed to help them navigate the stressful career. The third annual National Law Enforcement Survival Summit will be held in Las Vegas September 26-29.