Rahm Emanuel vows hundreds more cops — but wants ‘attitudinal change’ in city
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Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson announced Tuesday that hundreds of additional officers will be put on the streets this week in neighborhoods wracked by gun violence as the city reels from its bloodiest weekend this year.
The “strategic deployments” will add 430 officers to five South Side and West Side police districts: Calumet, Gresham, Ogden, Harrison and Austin.
The supplemental manpower will be increased to about 600 this weekend, though it’s not clear how long the deployments will last.
“We’ll go as long as it takes to get things under control,” Johnson said at a news conference at police headquarters alongside Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a few aldermen and pastors.
Redeploying officers is often a politically risky move, but Johnson said no beat officers would be pulled from other districts.
The deployments come in response to a barrage of weekend attacks that garnered international attention as 71 people were shot, 12 of them killed. The violence peaked early Sunday, when 30 people were shot during a three-hour span, including eight in a single shooting in Auburn Gresham. About a dozen more people were shot Monday.
The police have made no arrests in any of the shootings, though Johnson said investigators “have some promising leads.
“We have people that we’re talking to right now regarding these incidents,” he said, noting that Tuesday was National Night Out, a nationwide campaign to foster better community relationships with police.
“I’m asking anyone in Chicago who knows information about an incident to stand with us in true spirit of this night to make our streets safer,” Johnson said.
The additional officers are coming come from police tactical and gang units, along with some officers working extended hours and others canceling scheduled days off. Beat officers won’t be pulled from other districts, Johnson said.
The officers will partner with federal agents, conducting “emergency hot-spot dispersals” of loitering crowds and targeting people with arrest warrants, Johnson said.
On Monday, Johnson had expressed frustration with the blowback at the police department following violent summer weekends despite a 20 percent decline in the number of killings so far in 2018 compared to the same time last year. There were 416 killings in Chicago as of early August 2017, compared to 332 so far this year.
“I hear people holding us accountable all the time,” Johnson said. “I never hear people saying, ‘These individuals out here in the streets need to stop pulling the trigger.’ . . . They get a pass from everybody, and they shouldn’t.’”
Johnson said Tuesday that “the community is not responsible for the violence that occurred. But, at the same time, we all have a role to play in reducing violence.”
Emanuel doubled down on his call onday for people to “be a neighbor” and “speak up” to identify shooters. He said Tuesday an “attitudinal change” is needed to tamp down the carnage.
“This might not be politically correct, but I know the power of what faith and family can do,” Emanuel said. “There is nothing on the streets of Chicago that is stronger than what is in the faith community and what’s in family. Our kids need that structure.”
Emanuel acknowledged generations of disinvestment in the neighborhoods where much of the violence is concentrated, “but we also have to be conscious and aware that there is sometimes also a spiritual deficit,” he said.
“I know what the podium can do. But I’ve also seen what the power of the pulpit can do. And if they’re both pointed in the same direction, we will get there a lot faster,” Emanuel said.