(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has declared gun violence in Illinois a public health crisis with an executive order.
Officials on Monday unveiled a $250 million investment to implement a public safety plan over the next 3 years, and curtail gun violence around the state.
According to data from the 2020 Uniform Crime Report, the crime rate in Illinois was 6.9% higher than the overall national crime rate.
There were a total of 1,151 murders committed in Illinois in 2020, up 38% from the previous year. Chicago, a city struggling with high rates of gun violence, was the setting of 774 of those murders, a more than 50% increase from 2019.
Pritzker, who has been criticized for a lack of response to Illinois’ crime problem, said gun violence affects the entire state.
“In Chicago, Peoria, East St. Louis, Champaign, Decatur and Rockford, in every region of the state and this nation in communities large and small,” Pritzker said.
The data-driven Reimagine Public Safety Plan is a community-based violence prevention initiative. The program will address gun violence with the support of high-risk youth intervention programs, violence prevention services, youth development programs, and trauma recovery services for minors, according to a news release.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said police departments around Illinois play a major role in the plan.
“We gotta stop villainizing our police officers and support them,” Lightfoot said. “There’s no other organization in our city or in our state that runs towards danger to protect us.”
The investment will include both state and federal funding, including $50 million allocated in the fiscal year 2022 state budget. The state will begin allocating resources to qualified organizations before the end of the year.
Gubernatorial candidate Jesse Sullivan said you can’t just throw money at the problem.
“The fact remains that we have a crisis of trust and accountability in our cities. Communities have lost faith in prosecutors to incarcerate criminals. Bail reform has made it more likely that criminals are released. And police have lost faith in elected leaders to have their backs,” said Sullivan in a statement.