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City’s Labor Day weekend crime-fighting strategy: ‘flood the zone’ again

Over 1,000 officers will be out in the city during the holiday weekend, Chicago Police Department Supt. Eddie Johnson said Tuesday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson in summer 2019.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson say the crime-fighting plan for this coming holiday weekend will be similar to other recent holidays.
Fran Spielman/Chicago Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday she’ll once again “flood the zone” over Labor Day weekend, upping police presence in the city to try to reduce gun violence.

Lightfoot and Chicago Police Department Supt. Eddie Johnson discussed their crime-fighting tactics at City Hall after the mayor’s weekly meeting with CPD brass.

“These holidays don’t sneak up on us every year,” Johnson said, explaining the rationale behind the increased presence. “What we do is we look at the successes we made from Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. So we’ll be putting, you know, upwards of 1,000 additional officers out there again in a lot of our challenging areas.”

That will include Cook County Sheriff’s officers, federal partners and Illinois State police, making for a “heavier uniformed presence,” Johnson said during the regular “Accountability Tuesday” press conference to discuss crime statistics from the previous weekend.

Undercover officers will also be deployed.

Before discussing the coming weekend, Lightfoot shared bright spots from summer crime stats:

• Murders are down 15 percent from last year — the lowest number the city has seen since 2015.

• Shootings are also down 12 percent since last year — the lowest number the city has seen since 2014.

• The number of shooting victims is 10 percent lower than last year — also the lowest since 2014.

And, Lightfoot said, in the last two months, the city has seen “an acceleration of these declines.” Whether or not that’s because of the policing, or the cooler weather or “dumb luck,” Lightfoot said she and the police department have been “very intentional” about the work they’ve been doing.

“We know — based upon a lot of data and analysis — where the trouble spots are and making sure that we’re putting resources there and being nimble about making sure that we use additional resources when we see areas flare up that we may not have anticipated on a particular day or weekend,” Lightfoot said.

“And consistently the area that — and I’ve said this before — the time of day on the South and West Sides that challenges the most is Saturday night leading into Sunday morning. And so we’ve been talking more and devoting more resources to those areas in particular.”

Johnson said his department has been strategic with technological investments and while there has been progress, he’d caution that now isn’t the time for celebration.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said.