Report: Chicago mayor funneled hundreds of millions of city's COVID relief to police department

"That's the last thing people wanted."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reportedly sent a huge portion of the city's COVID-19 relief budget to the police department, a move that comes as murder rates remains significantly elevated in the city. 

The city has received about $1.2 billion in COVID funds, with around $281 million going to the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Tribune reported this week.

The CPD was reportedly reimbursed for costs such as airport security, COVID testing site security, and wellness checks on residents.

Lightfoot this week defended her decision to allocate the money to the police department. "We had this once-in-a-lifetime experience of COVID-19," she said. "It was not part of our budgeting that was passed in the fall of 2019 because we didn't understand that we were gonna be facing the kind of pandemic and challenges that we faced."

She added: "Should we have said, 'No? No, no, no, no, no, federal government, we'll incur this expense. ...' That would be foolish. And, of course, we didn't do that."

As has been the case with numerous other cities, police in Chicago have been dealing with an elevated homicide rate over the course of the pandemic. The city's CompStat data indicate that murders so far this year are 31% higher than the same time period in 2020, and 82% higher than they were in 2019.