October 23, 2023 12:00pm

Serafin Power Poll: Concerns about crime and public safety grow across Chicago

Mayor Johnson's budget, public safety, migrants in Chicago, CTA service and minimum wage for tipped workers

By Max Walczyk
Chicago, IL Correspondent
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Growing concerns about crime and public safety across Chicago headline the results of the October Serafin Power Poll. Our latest poll shows an overwhelming majority want city leaders to take action now to solve these pressing problems.

When it comes to Mayor Brandon Johnson's proposed budget, half of those surveyed said bolstering the city’s police department with nearly 400 civilian positions and 100 detectives should be the top priority.

We asked pollers to rank from 1 to 5 (with 1 being the most important) the most important considerations when it comes to the spending outlined in the $16.6 billion proposed budget.

Here are the results:

  • 49% said adding to the police department workforce
  • 19% said holding the line on no property tax increase
  • 16% said employment opportunities for young Chicagoans
  • Tied at 8% were funding shuttered mental health facilities and the creation of an “Office of New Arrivals.”

As more and more workers return to the office, commuters continue to be concerned about safety on our city’s buses and trains. The Chicago City Council recently passed an ordinance requiring top transit officials to appear in front of the council once every quarter.

We asked our pollers what they think the number one priority should be for these hearings.

  • An overwhelming majority of 73% selected safety as most important.
  • 21% chose reliability
  • 3% said cleanliness
  • 3% selected expanded service
  • 0% (nobody!) thought hiring incentives should be the priority.

With robberies spiking throughout many parts of Chicago’s northside, we asked our pollers what they consider the best way to address this growing issue.

  • 43% of pollers said the city should step up patrols in frequently targeted areas while hiring more officers to work these patrols.
  • 31% suggested allowing more aggressive pursuit of suspects by revising the Chicago Police Department’s chase guidelines.
  • 26% believe that the city should focus on addressing the root causes of crime by increasing investment in disadvantaged communities, including jobs for youth, afterschool programs and police community outreach.

In recent weeks, more than 17,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago. While Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson attempt to negotiate for additional federal funding, the crisis is overwhelming the state and the city’s ability to provide aid.

As winter approaches, we asked our pollers what they consider the best way to deal with the crisis.

  • 36% advocated for abandoning Chicago’s Sanctuary City status.
  • 42% suggested the city should provide permanent shelter to allow migrants to establish roots in Chicago
  • 22% said that the city should focus on providing temporary shelter to protect migrants from the coldest winter months.

An ordinance that will gradually raise the City of Chicago’s tipped minimum wage of $9.48 to the standard minimum wage, currently at $15.80, was recently approved by City Council. This marked a big win for the progressive group One Fair Wage, adding to its victory in Los Angeles.

We asked our pollers how this change will affect Chicago workers that currently rely on tips to bolster their income.

  • 47% believe that the ordinance will harm tipped workers because patrons will be less likely to add a gratuity.
  • 30% said restaurants, workers and patrons will adapt their habits to the new ordinance and there will not be a noticeable change in worker earnings.
  • 23% said that the additional guaranteed income with less fluctuation will benefit service economy workers.

A total of 1,217 Serafin Power Poll members were surveyed and the participation rate was 8.6%. The Serafin Power Poll is not a scientific poll, but rather a fascinating and non-partisan glimpse into the attitudes and opinions of the decision-makers and thought leaders in the Chicago region. See all Serafin Power Poll articles at serafin.com/powerpoll.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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