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Mayor summons police brass to City Hall after most violent February weekend in 18 years

The hold-your-feet-to-the-fire event that Mayor Lori Lightfoot likes to call “Accountability Tuesday” returned to City Hall on a grand scale for the first time since former Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was fired.

Interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck is promising to tamp down the violence by reassigning a “broad range of resources” to “areas that have suffered violence the most.”
Interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck is promising to tamp down the violence by reassigning a “broad range of resources” to “areas that have suffered violence the most.”
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot summoned interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck and the 41 commanders under his control to City Hall on Tuesday to talk about ways to tamp down the violence after Chicago suffered its deadliest February weekend in 18 years.

“I wouldn’t describe the mayor as angry. I’m not angry. She’s not angry. We’re concerned,” Beck told the Sun-Times.

“We have some issues that we’re dealing with in certain pockets of Chicago. We met to talk about those strategies. I’m not gonna go into them in depth, except to say that they involve a broad range of resources focused on areas that have suffered the violence the most.”

The hold-their-feet-to-the-fire event that Lightfoot likes to call “Accountability Tuesday” was back at City Hall on a grand scale for the first time since former Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was fired.

Beck emerged from the meeting — and his own one-on-one session with Lightfoot afterward — with a promise to reassign what he called “discretionary resources” to the areas with increased violence.

Dozens of Chicago Police Department officers were summoned to City Hall on Tuesday after an unusually violent February weekend.
Dozens of Chicago Police Department officers were summoned to City Hall on Tuesday after an unusually violent February weekend.
Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

He refused to say how many officers would be involved, where they would be reassigned or how long it would last.

But the retired L.A. police chief, holding down the fort until the mayor chooses Johnson’s permanent replacement, denied the Lightfoot-ordered crackdown on police overtime had, in any way, contributed to the uptick in violence.

“The smart application of resources is much more effective than gross general application of resources,” he said.

Beck noted the ultimate answer to the resource issue is the massive reorganization plan that he announced two weeks ago.

It will move hundreds of detectives, narcotics and gang officers from specialized units to police districts to solve assaults, robberies, burglaries and thefts.

“We’ve reorganized the department to put more resources into the hands of the commanders. That hasn’t been implemented totally yet and won’t be until the first of April,” Beck said.

“That is our big strategy. Our intermediate strategy—what we’re doing right now—is to put more resources into the areas most effected.”

The nine murders on the South and West sides between Friday night and early Sunday were the most in a single February weekend since 2002, according to a review of publicly available police data. All nine victims were men between 19 and and 39 years old.

Another 14 people were wounded by gunfire, including a 7-year-old girl in Humboldt Park.

During the same time span, a veteran CPD detective took her own life and a man was fatally shot by an officer after, police say, he shot another man outside a bar in Lake View.

“It was a very tough Saturday. That’s for sure. ... The issues that we had on Saturday — several of them — were fueled by late-night service of alcohol. Six of the incidents were fueled by gang activity. And all of `em — every one of them —was gun violence,” Beck said.

“Some of the acts — particularly the double-homicide [in Chinatown] and some of the others were dealt with immediately. We took people into custody. But that certainly does not help the victims and the pain of those involved. It’s a disappointing start. But, I’m confident we will turn it around.”