After weekend bloodshed, Brown says ‘violent felons’ driving shootings, CPD needs ‘a little bit of help’

“At the end of the day, our endgame strategy is to arrest violent felons, but if violent felons are getting right out of jail, we need cooperation and collaboration with other partners within the criminal justice system,” Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said Monday.

SHARE After weekend bloodshed, Brown says ‘violent felons’ driving shootings, CPD needs ‘a little bit of help’
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Chicago Police Supt. David Brown (at podium) addresses Father’s Day weekend violence during a press conference at CPD headquarters Monday with (from left to right) First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio, Chief of Operations Fred Waller and Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown on Monday once again called for other criminal justice entities to give the CPD “a little bit of help” in combating gun violence after a weekend that saw more than 100 people shot and several children murdered.

Brown said that the city’s violence was largely driven by violent felons who were released from jail too soon.

“At the end of the day, our endgame strategy is to arrest violent felons, but if violent felons are getting right out of jail, we need cooperation and collaboration with other partners within the criminal justice system,” Brown said.

Brown’s predecessor, Eddie Johnson, made the same plea on innumerable occasions during his 3 ½ years leading the CPD.

Asked for specifics on what drove the weekend bloodshed, Brown said: “Gangs, guns and drugs and not enough time spent in jail for violent felons.”

When 10 people were killed and 39 others were shot over Memorial Day weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfoot condemned the “bloodbath” and called it a “fail” by her newly appointed police superintendent.

On Monday, Lightfoot was asked what she would call a Father’s Day weekend that ended with 14 homicides that included children ages 3 and 13.

The mayor never answered the question directly. Instead, she talked about the parts of the criminal justice “eco-system” sidelined during the coronavirus pandemic that are still not fully back online.

“We still have some concerns on the part of the county about how many people can safely be in Cook County Jail. We still have some concern about bond decisions. Our federal partners are still not back in full complement. I don’t believe grand juries have been reconvened. And many federal agents are still not back doing the work that they normally do,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said she plans be convene a meeting later this week with each of the stakeholders— including the state’s attorney’s office and the criminal courts — to “talk about things each of us can do to step up to stem the violence that we saw this weekend.”

The weekend’s violence was felt across the city, though it was also concentrated. Of the CPD’s 22 districts, 19 of them recorded at least one shooting. However, nearly half of the weekend’s violence was seen in just three districts on the West Side: The Harrison, Ogden and Austin districts. Combined, the three saw 43 people shot, with seven of those killed, including a 3-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl.

With extra scrutiny being paid to law enforcement in the wake of the death of George Floyd, some officers are taking a less hands-on approach. Lightfoot’s public statements about Chicago police officers accused of misconduct have also made some more reticent in their duties.

“You don’t want to make the news starting the next wild fire here,” said one veteran CPD officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, said: “There’s going to be a hesitancy with the mayor basically calling for every little thing to be fire-able, but I don’t know that one is necessarily associated with the other as far as the violence this weekend.”

“I mean, it’s Chicago,” Catanzara added. “This is typical. It’s sad but true. It’s typical. This is summer violence.”

CPD officers have been assigned to work 12-hour days for much of the last three weeks in response to the Floyd-related protests and looting. Many have remained on that schedule as summer — historically the most violent part of the year in Chicago — arrives.

“We want to reassure them that we appreciate the hard work that they’re doing and the sacrifices that they’ve been making,” said Anthony Riccio, the CPD’s first deputy superintendent. “They’ve been under a lot of stress and there’s been a lot of attention [paid] to a few incidents that have occurred, but the overwhelming majority of these officers have worked hard and have done a tremendous job.”

Shortly after taking office, Brown told his deputies he wanted to hold Chicago murders under 300-a-year for the first time since 1957.

Now, Chicago is approaching 300 homicides before the end of June. On Monday, Lightfoot was asked what went wrong.

“Look, I think what the superintendent said when he had this ambitious idea of 300 — he called it a ‘moon-shot.’ And the idea was, not so much the number, but making sure that we rally all of the resources —both within the Police Department, but also with our various partners — to really focus on what each of us can do more around public safety,” the mayor said.

Asked whether she retains confidence in Brown, Lightfoot said she “can’t even believe someone would ask” that question after the retired Dallas police chief has been on the job for just eight weeks.

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