Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson outlined his approach to policing during a Thursday interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," arguing that his plan to invest in communities as part of a "more wholistic approach" would make strides against the city's rising crime if he's elected mayor later this spring.
Johnson is facing off against former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas in a race that features two candidates with very different stances on policing.
While Johnson has been criticized by other Democrats as part of the "defund the police" movement, he argued that a lack of investment in certain communities have led to "unprecedented levels of violence." And he argued that changing the way police respond to emergency calls can help the city be more equitable and strategic.
“We’re putting police officers in a space where they are not qualified to address. We are forcing police officers to behave as social workers, that’s irresponsible. And so that’s why we’re committed to making sure we have EMT and crisis interventionists and social workers and therapists that can show up and address the mental health crises," Johnson said.
"We’re going to shift that in the city of Chicago, we’re going to make sure police officers can focus on the more serious violent crimes in which 40% of those violent crimes actually take place in 6% of the entire city."
Vallas, his opponent in April's runoff, is backed by the Fraternal Order of Police. He ran a slew of ads during the first round of the election declaring that "crime is out of control" and promising to put "more police officers on our streets" and "confront the violence threatening our communities."