Chicago Police Supt. David Brown defended his effort to curtail overtime for officers on Thursday after an influential alderman claimed the top cop’s preoccupation with cutting costs kept hundreds of officers from hitting the streets over the violent Memorial Day weekend.
“We have utilized overtime that’s been budgeted,” Brown told reporters as he announced the launch of the department’s Summer Mobile Patrol Unit, a task force consisting of 100 roving officers focused on high crime “hotspots.”
“The question has been the overruns of overtime, the significant overruns of overtime. We have to get a handle on that,” he added. “We have to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Brown’s comments came after Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), a former Chicago cop who heads the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, said the new superintendent’s preoccupation with cutting overtime led to hundreds fewer officers patrolling the city on the historically violent holiday weekend. Brown acknowledged Tuesday that fewer extra officers were deployed this year but claimed they “coordinated a little bit better.”
After ten were fatally shot and 39 others were wounded in Chicago’s deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2015, Mayor Lori Lightfoot took aim at her handpicked superintendent, criticizing his strategy and holding him personally responsible for what she dubbed “a fail.”
On Thursday, Brown directly addressed an enforcement effort Sunday in Englewood that’s come under scrutiny.
Over the course of the incident, shots rang out in the area and two men were arrested on gun charges as officers broke up a gathering in the 7000 block of South Lowe, police said. During the melee, two officers were hurt.
While Brown acknowledged that some residents felt officers were acting as an “occupying force,” he claimed others applauded their response to “a significant gun crime.”
“Our officers are not bulletproof — nor are they COVID-proof; we’ve lost three officers to COVID — and so we go in risking our lives to protect residents of Chicago from COVID to disperse crowds. That’s protecting them from getting the virus,” Brown said. “And we go in with the idea that we’re going to risk our lives to protect them from gun violence. “
“And so it’s a mixed bag and it’s a fine line that we walk.”