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As Chicago ends deadliest year in quarter of a century, top cop promises more detectives and more ‘positive interactions’ in neighborhoods

“We all know this has been a challenging year here in the city of Chicago,” Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference to discuss his goals for the new year.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications in the Near West Side neighborhood on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. On Thursday, Brown offered a look ahead at plans for the Police Department in 2022.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications in the Near West Side neighborhood on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. On Thursday, Brown offered a look ahead at plans for the Police Department in 2022.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file photo

As Chicago ends its deadliest year in more than a quarter century, Police Supt. David Brown on Thursday promised more detectives to solve murders and more officers on the street to engage in “positive interactions” in neighborhoods.

“We all know this has been a challenging year here in the city of Chicago,” Brown said at a news conference to discuss his goals for the new year. “Too many families are reeling from the loss of loves ones due to senseless gun violence.

“Too many residents are dealing with the ripple effects of this trauma due to crime in our community,” he added.

There have been nearly 820 homicides in Chicago this year, according to data from the Cook County medical examiner’s office. That’s the most since 828 homicides were recorded in all of 1995. The total for 1994 was 931.

As of Tuesday, at least 4,390 people had been shot in Chicago, an increase of 8% from last year and 68% more than in 2019.

Brown said he wants to beef up the number of violent crime detectives from 1,100 to 1,300 during the first quarter of 2022. Right now, the average caseload for detectives is about 5.5, a number the superintendent wants to bring down to 3.5.

The department has lost hundreds of officers this past year, and Brown did not say how many of the new detectives would replace those who have left.

Despite the shortages, Brown said his department’s clearance rate for homicides was 49.4%. But that figure includes cases solved from past years, as well as cases that are considered “cleared” even if an arrest is not made.

Brown did not provide a breakdown of how many homicides committed this year have resulted in arrests.

The superintendent also talked about recruiting more new officers, saying the department’s goal for 2022 is 14,000 applicants.

“There will be more officers on the street, not just in patrol cars or behind desks, to interact with all Chicagoans,” Brown promised. “We want to build on positive interactions between the community and law enforcement.

With guns fueling much of the violence in Chicago, Brown said his department took 12,034 guns off the streets this past year and made 5,596 gun arrests.

The number of assault weapons seized doubled from the previous year, with 701 recovered, according to Brown. More “ghost guns,” or homemade guns without serial numbers, were also recovered, 455, a 71% jump from the 130 recovered in 2020.