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In one-on-one interview, Mayor Lightfoot defends Millennium Park curfew, his office’s handling of crime – NBC Chicago

For the first time in over a year, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sat down for a one-on-one interview with NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern, and during that conversation she defended the his administration’s decision to impose a curfew on Millennium Park, as well as his handling of rising crime in different parts of the city.

This new curfew, which limits unaccompanied minors in Millennium Park after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, has been criticized as being too harsh, which Lightfoot has dismissed.

“‘Why is she doing this, why would she be doing this, what is her authority,'” Lightfoot said of the criticism she’s heard. “Doing nothing is just not an option.”

Lightfoot says private security will be on the front line enforcing the new restrictions, which were put into effect after a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed during a mass gathering of teenagers in the park on Saturday.

“They’re going to be the people on the front lines,” she said. “Obviously, there are officers who are already assigned to 1st and 18and districts if there is a need for their services (also).

The Millennium Park shooting underscores a growing challenge for Lightfoot’s administration as gun violence dominates headlines and public consciousness.

Over the weekend, at least 33 people were shot in the city of Chicago, and five of those people died.

Following a recent spate of violence in downtown Chicago that culminated in the shooting death of a 16-year-old near “The Bean” during a large rally Saturday night, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new curfew rule and a change to the current rule. reports Kate Chappell.

Asked about clearance numbers in murder cases, Lightfoot defended her case.

“In 2021, we solved more murders in that year than in the previous 19 years,” she said. “We followed the same protocols that the FBI has in place.”

Lightfoot also dismissed the characterization of a “spike” in downtown crime, but said his administration is working to deal with an increase in these types of incidents.

“They went up,” she said. “We have focused on bringing those numbers down.”

Part of the challenge Lightfoot faced was a wave of retirements and resignations within the department. It is estimated that there are 2,000 fewer police today than there were when Lightfoot was sworn in three years ago, which the mayor says she is working to resolve.

“During the pandemic, particularly in 2020, we were unable to set up courses due to COVID restrictions, but we have significantly increased our recruitment efforts,” she said.

Even amidst all these challenges, Lightfoot says she is grateful for the role she was voted into, and while she hasn’t officially announced her re-election bid, she says she’s extremely motivated to stay in the post.

“I feel like I received the gift of my life,” she said. “Every day, I work with great people in city government and outside of city government, to solve real problems for our residents.”

NBC Chicago

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