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After weekend with no murders, Supt. Johnson vows to keep extra cops ‘out there’

Eddie Johnson speaks at a press conference on July 27, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Chicago’s five most violent police districts will get 600 additional weekend officers — and police will continue to break up large unsanctioned parties — “until we’re comfortable things are stabilized,” Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Monday.

The costly overtime that is difficult to sustain was hastily authorized to prevent a repeat of the bloodbath last weekend that left 71 people shot, 12 of them dead — and it worked.

Another hot summer weekend came and went without a single homicide and 33 shootings, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

During an unrelated news conference on CTA security, Johnson was asked how long the additional attention and manpower would last at a time when the Fraternal Order of Police has warned of burnout by officers whose requests to take time off have been refused.

“Until we’re comfortable that things are stabilized, we’ll continue to have ’em out” there, the superintendent said.

Pressed on what made the difference between a weekend bloodbath and a weekend without murders, Johnson said, “It’s not that CPD did anything particularly different. We looked at large gatherings … and paid attention to ’em. But crime is cyclical. You never know when this stuff is gonna pop out. So we do what we do every weekend to keep crime down in the city.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauded Johnson for “getting on something immediately quick” and “making adjustments” in police tactics.

“When the community comes together with law enforcement embracing our children and our future, better things happen,” the mayor said. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times
“When the community comes together with law enforcement embracing our children and our future, better things happen,” the mayor said. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

But he argued that the decision to concentrate on large gatherings and flood the streets of the five districts besieged by gang violence with 600 additional officers was only part of the story behind a comparatively tranquil summer weekend in Chicago.

There was also the annual Bud Billiken parade, the largest African-American parade in the country, celebrating students going back to school.

“When the community comes together with law enforcement embracing our children and our future, better things happen,” the mayor said.

“While there’s always a valid question about tactics, I also think there’s a valid observation about culture and partnership. And what I saw this weekend is a city embracing their children, embracing the start of the school year, coming together as a neighborhood, working with law enforcement, working with neighbors.”

Last week, Emanuel was accused of “victim shaming” for citing an absence of “values” and “character” in the African-American community after last weekend’s outbreak of violence.

On Monday, he reiterated that message — not in a lecturing tone this time, but in an attempt at positive reinforcement.

“When you have the power of neighborhoods, the power of community and the power of a set of values that bring us together, which is our children, you’ll see a lot more safety because you have a future,” the mayor said.

“I want to compliment all the religious leaders, block club presidents, community leaders and, most importantly, parents who celebrated the beginning of a school year and did it in an appropriate way as one city with one future and all our children that count,” he said.

• Emanuel and Johnson talked about the relatively peaceful weekend during a news conference called to highlight the previously disclosed decision to replace decade-old standard definition cameras with high-definition cameras and install new cameras at four stations along the CTA’s Blue Line: Clinton, LaSalle, Grand and Chicago.

Emanuel’s 2018 budget raised ride-hailing fees by 15 cents a ride this year and another nickel in 2019 to bankroll CTA capital improvements, including the new cameras.

Some aldermen want Chicago to follow New York City’s lead by freezing new ride-hailing licenses and establishing a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers.

Emanuel, whose brother is an Uber investor, argued that he’s already found the right balance.

“Ride share is a competitor and we have to deal with that. … It’s good for the city of Chicago that people have choices,” the mayor said. “Ride share is affecting public transportation. But if we can make it safe, secure and reliable, we’re gonna win our share of the future business.”

Late Monday, mayoral press secretary Matt McGrath left no doubt that Emanuel would strongly oppose any effort to impose ride-hailing caps.

“It’s interesting we’re discussing caps in the future without recognizing the caps that existed in the past. For decades the taxi industry had a monopoly in this city, but good luck getting a taxi to pick you up or drop you off on the South or West sides,” McGrath wrote in an email.“That’s another kind of cap, an industry-imposed cap that existed forever.”