Police Supt. David Brown lauded a handful of successful initiatives and reforms to the department and tempered his criticism of judges and prosecutors in a speech Monday at the City Club of Chicago.
Brown voiced his support for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposal to spend millions on violence reduction programs in 2022 and hit on some familiar notes as he discussed the surging violence in the city over the last 18 months. But he struck a different tone when addressing questions about State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Chief Judge Timothy Evans and their role in suppressing crime.
Brown’s weekly news conferences have pointed to low bonds and light punishments for gun offenders as reasons for the near-record levels of violent crime. Asked a question from the audience at the City Club, Brown smiled.
“One thing that I would caution all of us, and I will take my own advice as well: picking a fight with the State’s Attorney and the chief judge is not helpful, even if it feels good after you do it,” he said, drawing chuckles from the crowd.
“I know it feels good to say ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key,’ but that is not what these elected officials were elected to do. They have a different agenda, and they should not be a rubber stamp to policing... but there should be a healthy tension between us and the courts”
Brown said he was meeting with Foxx and Evans this week to discuss efforts to target gun traffickers and building conspiracy cases to wrap up high-level gang members.
“People who have to work together, have to work together,” he said.
Brown, who was introduced by Lightfoot, also lauded a “whole of government approach” to crime reduction that has targeted 15 of the city’s most violent police beats. He pointed to a 2% decline in carjackings, 17% decrease in robberies and 23% decline in murders in the targeted areas, mostly on the city’s South and West sides, but noted only a 3% decline in homicides.
Citywide the number of homicides has increased by 3% from the same period in 2020, on pace to exceed the nearly 800 murders last year. A Chicago Sun-Times analysis showed that violence in many of the targeted areas had increased over 2020 levels.
Brown called for an increase to the $30 million spent on the “wraparound” approach to crime. It was not clear which programs the $30 million figure referred to. Lightfoot’s 2021 budget proposal included $50 million for violence reduction programs, and the 2022 budget calls for a total of $85 million across several initiatives.
“These are successes we can scale up and build on and expand,” Brown said.