It’s a question of what we value.
Where are the values of our City Leaders that we would not take steps to ensure that all of our first responders have the critical protection gear needed to keep them healthy and safe?
That point was driven home again for me last Thursday when I attended the Chicago Police Department Memorial Foundation Valor Awards Dinner which honored the service of Commander Paul Bauer. Part of the money raised by the Foundation goes to off-set the cost our Police Officers have to pay themselves for replacement bulletproof vests. When I was City Budget Director, I ended the practice of police officers buying their own vests. It’s hard to believe that the purchase of replacement vests is still the responsibility of the individual Police Officer. This is also the same with firefighter personal protective gear. Knowing full well the links between substandard and dirty personal protective gear with cancer, the City has refused to provide, at the very least, secondary gear to ensure that firefighters always work in clean non-hazardous gear.
These will be non-issues when I am mayor. When my father, myself and two of my sons were in the service we didn’t have to buy our own helmets, flak jackets and other essential gear. Police bulletproof vests and replacement and duplicative firefighter personal protective gear will be provided by the City when I am mayor. Let the money raised by the Police Department Memorial Foundation and such wonderful events like the Valor Awards go to the support the families of those who have fallen or been disabled in the line of duty. Ensuring that all first responders have quality protective gear is a city responsibility.