Ending the Waves of Crime

Tragically, many of us in the 18th District have seen crimes first-hand on our blocks, within our stores, or while riding the CTA.

We deserve to raise our families in a Chicago that prioritizes protecting all children and neighbors. Chicago should be a city that invests heavily in education and social services, and in a police force with the training and resources to effectively prevent and combat criminal behavior. Families can only flourish in a safer Chicago, in which our police beat officers are members of a neighborhood’s extended family, keeping our communities safe. But this version of Chicago I hope and work for, the version I have always believed could exist, needs our collective support.

We are very fortunate to live in the 18th, a district with vibrant neighborhoods and a strong network of neighborhood organizations that give voices to their many accomplished members. An area with this many actively involved residents can work together to create and maintain an environment in which families feel safe both at home and while enjoying the many points of interest that the 18th has to offer.

There are several reasons driving our increase in crime, and we are tragically ill-equipped and under-staffed.

Our community is in desperate need of:

More police beat officers and more consistent schedules

More officers and more time within the 18th District mean more consistency, better interactions, and less unknowns when responding to calls—which benefits us all.

More effective training

The CPD is used as a catch-all institution in this city—one that is burdened with a weight it is not equipped to bear.

Improving CPD’s partnership with CPS and CTA

We’re all in this together.

Community Policing

Tragically, many of us in the 18th District have seen crimes first-hand on our blocks, within our stores, or while riding the CTA.

More police beat officers and more consistent schedules

More officers and more time within the 18th District mean more consistency, better interactions, and less unknowns when responding to calls—which benefits us all. 

Currently, the Police of the 18th District are vastly under-staffed. The 18th District is responsible for so many wonderful public spaces and diverse points of interest–such as the many parks, schools, Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach, Michigan Avenue, Northwestern Hospital, Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, Navy Pier, and more. While these spaces help create such an incredible Chicago, they often require a large number of officers from the 18th district police force. This often leaves our neighborhoods without the support and regular beat patrol needed to prevent car-jackings, robberies, shop-lifting, and other crimes that are becoming increasingly common in residential areas.

With the planned development of a temporary casino (which will be within the 18th district) and a permanent casino (which will be right outside of the 18th district), our officers will be spread even more thin. These gambling institutions bring with them a whole new set of issues—issues that should have been dealt with by recruiting and training additional police offers and educating our youth about the dangers of gambling addictions. Instead, the responsibility for the safety of our district will rest too heavily on our short-staffed police force.

To fulfill our expectations for community policing and safety, we need a consistent presence of at least 2 to 3 beat cars in our police beats (neighborhoods). This is simply not achievable with CPD’s currently limited resources. The hard-working officers of the 18th District are often made to work in other parts of the city. With a force spread so thin, it’s impossible to maintain consistent relationships between police officers and the community they are working in. Our officers, much like officers throughout CPD, have been pushed to work too many successive days in a row without sufficient time off. Officers have more complex and difficult jobs than most people, and they deserve to enjoy time with their loved ones and mentally reset before their next shift. Increasing the number of officers would ease the burden on the 18th by allowing the police force to function without imposing aggressive (sometimes 11-day) schedules and inconsistent locations on each individual officer.

More effective training

The CPD is used as a catch-all institution in this city—one that is burdened with a weight it is not equipped to bear. Police officers neither want nor need to be involved when better-suited social workers and services can support non-criminal crises, such as those caused by mental health suffering. We need better funding for the institutions that provide sustainable mental health and domestic support, as well as better training for CPD so all officers know how to direct the flow of care when met with situations outside of their expertise.

Domestic disputes account for a sizable proportion of the 911 calls that place officers in the most danger. Responding officers find incredibly difficult scenarios that can involve relationship disputes, child endangerment, and domestic abuse. Though officers try their best to focus on the immediate safety of the victims involved, most officers do not have the training required to consider how their short-term decisions will impact the victims’ long-term well-being.

Though it’s long overdue, in September 2021, Chicago launched a pilot multidisciplinary response team to help resolve some of these issues and provide Chicagoans with adequate crisis intervention services. The Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement program, or C.A.R.E. for short, was created as a comprehensive crisis response system that is meant to help individuals who are experiencing a behavioral or mental health crisis and require an emergency response. A key element of the C.A.R.E initiative is its involvement with—and training of—first responders in the City. Currently, CPD officers can undergo special training to become CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) officers, and while this is a welcomed step towards a better-trained emergency response, a mental health component must be mentioned during the original 911 call. The 18th district and its residents would be better served if all police officers underwent the necessary CIT training and gained access to the knowledge and resources required to deal with complex domestic disputes in a restorative way.

Currently, C.A.R.E. only operates within certain communities outside of the 18th District. However, if proven effective, we must rapidly expand C.A.R.E. services to accommodate the needs of the entire city.

Unfortunately, many police calls involve homeless individuals. Though being homeless is not a crime, specialized officers called Homeless Liaisons are available to support residents that call 911 with concerns about a homeless person. With our rising homeless population, we need the number of Homeless Liaisons to increase to meet the needs of the 18th and help homeless members access resources–especially during the brutal Chicago winter.

To increase officer access to CIT training, we must also focus on increasing funding towards the training of officers and the retention of experienced officers. In the last three years, Chicago lost a record number of police officers and Field Training Officers to resignation and retirement. We must consider methods to retain our best officers so that we maintain their leadership, expertise, and community relationships.  

Improving CPD’s partnership with CPS and CTA

We’re all in this together. Creating a safer Chicago is reliant upon our schools, our police, our park district, our CTA, our public housing, our healthcare system, our support for parents, and countless other factors that lay the groundwork for our city’s operation.

The CPD’s partnership with Chicagoans and other Chicago institutions and agencies has deteriorated over several years and is in need of our prioritization.

Much of the recent crime is being committed by children and young adults, many of whom can be better supported through institutions like the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). CPS and CPD must have the unified goal of educating our children and keeping them safe. While resource officers are no longer in many schools, a communicative relationship with local area school principals would greatly benefit CPD’s ability to respond to emergencies and protect all students. Addressing and more thoughtfully developing the frayed relationship between these two institutions is integral to successfully stemming gang violence and increasing student safety.

This recent increase in crime is not only due to a hampered police force. The implementation of preventative measures and policies beyond just CPD can help ensure safety in our neighborhoods. I see this as an opportunity for the city’s many social and educational institutions to become more deeply involved, especially in helping us reach the under-served youth who unfortunately have become increasingly present as perpetrators of crimes in the 18th. Because the landscape of the 18th is so varied, crime in our district occurs in places that are overseen by a vast array of local and city-wide organizations. Additionally, the CTA—which provides essential transportation to and from the many landmarks of our district—is often dealing with safety issues of its own. Collaboration with all of these organizations is crucial if we want to guarantee safety and security amid the 18th Police District’s unique set of challenges. Like all problems that plague this city, there’s more than meets the eye—and we need a comprehensive approach through multiple strategies to adequately address and resolve the many problems facing our district.

In parts of the CTA, notably the various Red Line stops within the 18th District, crimes have become commonplace– making certain stops unsafe. Chicagoans rely on the CTA to commute to work and travel to school. In our district, the CTA allows people from around the city to visit our many public areas. Without safe travel, our District’s businesses, schools, and attractions will suffer. The CTA, in partnership with CPD, must dedicate the funding and resources necessary to keep the CTA’s many stops from becoming crime scenes. This includes more frequent police presence in train cars and police stationed at train stops.

Going about our everyday lives while feeling safe should not be a game of chance. We deserve to be safe while living in this beautiful and multicultural city.

Community Policing

Tragically, many of us in the 18th District have seen crimes first-hand on our blocks, within our stores, or while riding the CTA.

There are several reasons driving our increase in crime, and we are tragically ill-equipped and under-staffed.

Our 18th District has gone from 421 officers in 2018 to roughly 316 active officers as of this month. As a result of this shortage, officers only have the resources to respond to the “highest priority” 911 calls in a timely manner. This effectively limits their ability to respond to other, less time-sensitive crimes (like prior robberies and prior shoplifting) and results in multiple-hour delays between the 911 calls for these crimes and subsequent follow-ups by the police. The lack of regular beat officers and patrols has also resulted in inconsistent policing coverage and a lack of familiarity with the neighborhood’s residents.Too often, Our Police are forced to operate as more of a response unit than a pro-active deterrent to crime.

At its inception, community policing was meant to promote familiarity and information sharing to deter crime, but despite the 18th District’s efforts, we have moved too far away from this model to make it an effective crime-fighting strategy. Increasing community involvement through already-existing initiatives like CAPS and the District Advisory Council, while creating new ones where needs exist, will help realign the priorities of both the CPD and community towards one common goal—public safety.


Hi Friends and Supporters,

On March 14th, 2023, the final votes were counted, and I am very excited to share that we received the highest number of votes for the 18th District for the Chicago Police District Council!

Our election success could never have been possible without your incredible support throughout our campaign. You hosted meet and greets, gathered signatures, fundraised, passed out palm cards, emailed your friends, supported me at three debates, and voted! You believed in our campaign, and even more so, in this city. Together, we will create a safer Chicago.

In the coming weeks, I will be relaunching this website to provide opportunities to get involved, understand the policing and safety framework/laws in Chicago, and stay updated on news and resources.

There will be opportunities and a need for all of us to get involved, roll up our sleeves, and create the change that we believe in. I humbly ask for your continued support and involvement.

I am deeply thankful to you, and I am honored to work on behalf of our communities.

Hi, I’m Brad!

My wife, Hayley, and I were born and raised in the city of Chicago. To us—and our two young children—Chicago is home, and we could not imagine raising our children anywhere else. But like many of you, we are worried about our family’s safety. It has always been against my very nature to stand by and do nothing as things around me get worse. As the city faces new waves of crime and an uncertain policing landscape, I am ready to continue to roll up my sleeves to improve our city.

Growing up, I witnessed a Chicago that frequently battled crime, including areas of the 18th district. I attended the Lasalle Language Academy, a Chicago Public School in Old Town, for elementary school. I went to LaSalle in the late 1980s–mid 1990s, at a time when crime was rampant throughout the city.  I quickly became aware of two very different worlds—one inside the walls of LaSalle, a wonderful, diverse school where all of us became friends through our commonalities, and one outside the building, where we went home to different neighborhoods with different experiences. The Chicago I went home to was one in which my community, family, and city provided me with great opportunities. My friends, many of whom came from lower income communities, saw Chicago as a place that binds and closes one’s imagination and possibilities.

I believed in the potential for a better city, and I still do.

Throughout my career, I have taken every possible opportunity to work with countless advocates and dedicated civil servants to improve areas of the city. My many years of work and field-tested expertise with supporting our youth have prepared me to competently advocate on behalf of our district’s safety at this time of crisis.

I am a licensed attorney, having graduated from Northwestern Law School in 2009.

After graduating from law school, I led Chicago Public Schools’ anti-violence task force, in which we developed and launched three initiatives focused on reducing gang violence: Culture of Calm (which implemented several initiatives, such as restorative justice and in-school suspension, within 40 high schools), Safe Passage (which supports student safety through safe walking routes between gang boundaries), and wrap-around mentoring for 10,000 students most at risk of becoming victims of gun violence. We tracked considerable progress through these initiatives, with many high schools still utilizing the programs that we implemented across the school district.  Our success was the direct result of focusing resources, utilizing proven intervention and restorative justice approaches, and collaborating regularly with CPD, CPS, local religious institutions, businesses, and community leaders, and several other city, county, and state agencies and organizations. No solution to a problem of this size can be solved without a fundamental belief in collaboration.

For the past 7 years—and counting—I have co-led a locally-headquartered education business, Academic Approach. We work with schools and students from all socio-economic backgrounds across Chicago and the country. While we are known throughout the 18thdistrict for our 1-on-1 tutoring services, we are even more widely known throughout the Chicago Public Schools in the south and west sides where we provide in-depth support for teachers and students.

In many ways, Lincoln Park High School (one of our district’s high schools) represents the obstacles and opportunities that we face when trying to reach our community’s children. As an elected community representative on the Local School Council for Lincoln Park High School, I primarily focus on the school’s safety strategy, help oversee the facilities, and provide oversight of the school’s budget. Last year, our high school students—like elsewhere in Chicago—struggled with a lack of mental health support and safety. They needed to be better cared for, and in turn, they needed to show up to school ready to learn. This year, we invested in social-emotional support so that students feel better cared for and teachers have the support in the classroom to continue to excel in their instruction. We also invested in restorative discipline so that students better understand our expectations while also being kept within our school community and not pushed away. As a result, we have seen positive impacts on students’ mental health and an increase in student safety.

While faced with the complex goal of making this school safer, we not only created a multidisciplinary strategy, but also implemented concrete programs and foundational changes to the approach inside one of the most socio-economically and racially diverse high schools in the country. Our police district’s issues are complex and robust, and require that level of thoughtfulness, inspiration, planning, and execution.

As elected director of my Lincoln Park neighborhood association, I am closely involved in overseeing our neighborhood safety strategy. I am also a member of the Old Town Triangle Association Safety Committee, and I serve on the advisory board of the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, a multi-disciplinary center that brings together child-protection, law enforcement, and healing services to respond to, treat, and prevent child abuse.

But my most important roles are those of husband to my wife, Dr. Hayley Silver, and father to our two young, adorable children. The love I have for my community and my city are only compounded by the love I have for my family. I think that this is what drives all of us to strive for a better Chicago—the fundamental need to guarantee our children an environment that provides them with opportunities and keeps them safe.

I firmly believe that creating a safer Chicago is reliant upon our schools, our police, our park district, our CTA, our public housing, our healthcare system, our support for parents, and countless other factors that set the tone for how our city operates. I will bring my purposeful voice and emphasis on collaboration to our support of local police, and beyond, to our City’s over-arching safety strategy. We need people who have the vision, creativity, and knowledge on implementing and supporting our communities to invest in everyone’s future.

Thank you for your ongoing support of these initiatives!
Brad Kessler