July 16, 2021 9:00am

Serafin Power Poll: Violence Will Stop Businesses Coming to Chicago

Majority say leaders aren’t doing enough to curb the violence

By Thom Serafin

This month’s Serafin Power Poll focused on how to address the violence crisis and the impact it may have on Chicago’s ability to attract businesses.

After a particularly violent 4th of July weekend, we asked Serafin Power Pollers to rate city officials’ handling of violence in Chicago. The majority (72.6%) gave officials a ‘poor’ rating, while 24.2% rated the response as ‘fair’. Only 3% gave a ‘good’ rating and no respondents thought city officials were doing an ‘excellent’ job in handling violence.

In response to violent events, everyone from pundits and politicos to armchair quarterbacks suggest their opinion on what should be done. We provided a few of the most frequently cited options to Serafin Power Pollers and asked them to choose which was the most important thing that could be done to reduce violence. Increasing economic opportunity (27%) and tackling the flow of illegal guns into the city (25%) were the top vote-getters, with a stronger police presence at 21.9%. Fewer respondents thought federal law enforcement intervention (13.5%) and criminal justice reform (12.5%) and were the most important step.

After the July 4th weekend, city and county leaders weighed in on which policies were to blame for the continued violence. Mayor Lightfoot and CPD Superintendent Brown suggested that the county court system is too lenient in releasing violent offenders. State’s Attorney Foxx and Chief Judge Evans pushed back, citing a Loyola study that found no connection between pre-trial release and an increase in violent crime. With soundbites and snippets parried back and forth, we asked Power Pollers which point of view they most agreed with. A majority (55.8%) chose Superintendent Brown’s quote, “There are too many violent offenders and too little consequences in our courts. There are too many illegal guns in our city and too little consequences in the courts.”

Another 27.4% favored Mayor Lightfoot: “When somebody has shot up a neighborhood, and they’re released on bond or electronic monitoring within 24 to 48 hours of being arrested, what message does that send to the victims?”

SA Foxx’s, “It starts with apprehending those who pull the trigger; police must make an arrest before a case reaches the courthouse door,” received 11.6%, and only 5.3% chose Chief Judge Evans’ quote, “Prison before trial deprives defendants, who are presumed innocent, of their right to prepare for a defense, while leading to job loss and other personal and financial difficulties.”

A week ago, Mayor Lightfoot spoke with President Biden about Chicago’s violence crisis before flying to San Francisco to pitch Chicago as a tech hub and woo companies to the city. We asked Serafin Power Pollers if they thought Chicago’s problems with violence would impede businesses from moving to Chicago. A whopping majority (89.5%) believe that the violence could be a factor, while only 10.5% said violence would not stop businesses from coming to the city.

A total of 428 Serafin Power Poll members were surveyed and the participation rate was 22.43%. 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.

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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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