22 aldermen demand hearing on police response to violence before Fourth of July weekend

After two straight weekends marred by mass shootings, the aldermen say they can’t wait until after the holiday. They want Ald. Chris Taliaferro to schedule hearings on their resolutions pertaining to police staffing and tactics.

SHARE 22 aldermen demand hearing on police response to violence before Fourth of July weekend
Chicago police work the scene where at least eight people were shot in the 6300 block of South Artesian Avenue in the Marquette Park neighborhood late on Sunday, June 27, 2021.

Chicago police work the scene where at least eight people were shot in the 6300 block of South Artesian Avenue in the Marquette Park neighborhood late Sunday.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Nearly two dozen aldermen are threatening to call a special City Council meeting on police response to the bloodbath on Chicago streets — and compel testimony by Chicago Police Supt. David Brown — unless the Committee on Public Safety schedules immediate hearings on three crime-related resolutions.

One of the pending resolutions demands a hearing on police officer scheduling, deployment strategies and programs or incentives offered to address officer fatigue.

Another is a call to re-examine the Summer Mobile Unit and Community Safety teams — created by Brown last summer after civil unrest triggered by the death of George Floyd devolved into two rounds of looting — and what the resolution called the “reallocation of officers and resources from neighborhood districts” those units triggered.

The third resolution seeks hearings to examine the “success of technologies used by CPD in managing crime-fighting operations and personnel shortages.”

After successive summer weekends marred by mass shootings, the group of 22 aldermen say they are not willing to wait until after Fourth of July weekend for answers to their questions.

They’re demanding that Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s hand-picked public safety committee chairman, schedule hearings on those resolutions.

If he doesn’t, the aldermen warn they will call a special Council meeting for this Friday and “compel” Brown to appear.

As of early Tuesday evening the letter had been signed electronically by 22 aldermen, including several members of Lightfoot’s Council leadership team.

Among them: Education Committee Chairman Michael Scott Jr. (24th); Aviation Committee Chairman Matt O’Shea (19th); Economic and Capital Development Committee Chairman Gilbert Villegas (36th), the mayor’s former Council floor leader; and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), the Council’s president pro tempore.

On WTTW’s Chicago Tonight on Tuesday evening, Lightfoot responded, saying, “The Police Department does regular briefings with aldermen, certainly with the public safety committee. Unfortunately, we need to make sure all those aldermen are coming and participating in those briefings. But transparency around public safety is ... critically important.”

O’Shea, whose Far Southwest Side ward is home to scores of police officers, said he signed the letter because he won’t risk another holiday weekend bloodbath.

“I want David Brown to sit before the Council and tell us, what’s the plan? What are we gonna do moving forward? As we continue to have these spikes in ugly violence and the mass shootings, we’re concerned about officers being pulled from districts. I want assurances that police officers aren’t gonna be pulled from communities. I want assurances that they’re looking after the well-being of their police officers,” O’Shea told the Sun-Times.

“Almost every day, I’m hearing from law enforcement families in my community. Partners and spouses worried about each other, their well-being. Our police officers are under a tremendous amount of stress. We’re under-manned as a police department right now and they’re over-worked. This is not sustainable.”

O’Shea noted last weekend’s mass shootings occurred despite a tornado warning and violent thunderstorms — and this weekend’s forecast is for clear skies.

“I’m very concerned with the level of violence we’ve seen in our city as we’re approaching a holiday weekend — and you look at the weather forecast — and what we’re expecting. At least, what I’m expecting,” O’Shea said.

Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) has been a firefighter and police officer in Chicago. His far Northwest Side ward is also home to scores of police officers.

Like O’Shea, Napolitano said the Council “needs answers” after back-to-back weekends marred by mass shootings.

“We can’t put the onus on just the officers. Fatigue is through the roof. Morale is completely gone. ... And the amount of hours that they’re being forced to work constantly—and this is all being put on them to fix — is a powder keg. This is ready to explode,” Napolitano said.

“On top of that, these officers are being held accountable by a good portion of the City Council as being the evil empire. We need some answers now. ... And I can’t be told that crime is caused by illegal guns anymore. Biggest bunch of b.s. I’ve ever heard in my entire life. We have the strictest gun laws in the entire country.”

Taliaferro, in a text message to the Sun-Times, wrote: “Our residents deserve to know what our department’s response has been to a violent past weekend in the city and the plan for this extended holiday weekend. As such, I am not opposed to having that conversation — whether it is by way of committee or special Council meeting.”

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) also signed the letter and said it’s no surprise 19 other aldermen did, too.

“All of our residents are demanding action from their city government on the crime wave. But we ‘re bystanders in this process. It’s saying, `We’re in this, too, mayor. You need to include us in these conversations,’” Hopkins said.

“It’s now well-established that, if we want to assert any leverage as a legislative branch of government, we have to be pro-active about it. This is an attempt by the aldermen to assert our position in this a little more firmly.”

The Latest
And that’s not the only problem at an office where the assistant will make less than the trainee, and the boss is overlooking her main responsibilities.
He’s investing in an insurance brokerage while serving as the General Assembly’s Insurance Committee chairman. That can’t be good for Illinoisans.
The Portage Park restaurant run by a father-son team has grown its menu offerings since opening in 2022 and added a bookstore, selling Polish, Italian, French, Spanish and English books.
This stretch of Michigan Avenue is rebounding post-COVID and adapting to today’s consumers, who crave experiences more than products, writes the managing director of 360CHICAGO.
Doctors used a spinal anesthetic to numb the patient from the chest down, eliminating the use of narcotics and general anesthesia, cutting recovery time. The patient, John Nicholas, was released within 24 hours of the procedure.