Editor’s note: On Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times published an essay from city of Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson reacting to the death of schoolteacher Cynthia Trevillion, an unintended victim of a drive-by shooting in Rogers Park. Trevillion, 64, taught Ferguson’s children at Waldorf School, so he knew both her and her husband, also a Waldorf teacher.
On Monday, police Supt. Eddie Johnson emailed all Chicago Police officers and forwarded them his response to Ferguson. In his email, Johnson wrote that Ferguson made “his comments without visiting a police district or speaking to any of you about the progress to reduce violence and the many personal sacrifices you all make to do your jobs.”
Johnson added, “I’m sorry, but for 30 years we have looked into the eyes of grieving family members who just lost a loved one. . . . We owe it to every victim, every family, every resident of this great city to improve the safety of our city. And that work will be achieved much faster when we are all working together toward the same goal instead of criticizing from the sidelines.”
Here’s the full text of Johnson’s letter to Ferguson:
I would like to thank you for your heartfelt words concerning the issues of gun violence and illegal guns in our city. As a police officer for nearly 30 years, I have dedicated my life to making Chicago safer and doing my part to help make the Chicago Police Department a better agency. I have also spent that time consoling countless families who have dealt with the immeasurable loss caused by gun violence.
Whoever the victim, whatever their background, I personally grapple with every act of violence in this city because I am ultimately responsible for the safety of everyone in it. So I understand and share your grief and passion after the senseless murder of Cynthia Trevillion in the Rogers Park community.
Selfishly, I wish Chicago had heard from you earlier as countless families on the South and West sides were dealing with this very same grief — or when the Mayor and I were fighting in Springfield to create a culture of accountability for repeat gun offenders. Nevertheless, your voice is important, valued and needed to make our city safer.
However, you are misinformed to suggest that CPD does not have a crime strategy or is not invested in the safety of our neighborhoods. So I would like to take this opportunity to tell you exactly what we have been doing to keep Chicagoans safe.
At the very beginning of this year I outlined our strategy to reduce violence in 2017 based upon three important pillars: targeted, data driven enforcement, addressing the flaws in sentencing guidelines for repeat gun offenders, and renewing our community policing and engagement with the public. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, we relied not on words, but action to make significant progress on all three pillars.
In six of our most historically violent districts, we launched intelligence nerve centers that give our officers the data and tools they need to drive a 22 percent average reduction in shooting incidents in those neighborhoods and a nearly 18 percent reduction citywide, with 18 out of 22 police districts seeing reductions in gun violence this year. The Englewood district, which was the first to implement this technology, has seen a nearly 45 percent reduction compared to 2016 and a nearly 25 percent reduction compared to 2015. Those are not just statistics, but the difference between a community under siege and a community ready to rebuild.
We succeeded this year in holding repeat gun offenders accountable, when Mayor Emanuel and I fought in Springfield for the passage of the Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act. This legislation, which will go into effect in January, will direct judges to sentence repeat violent offenders at the higher end of the existing sentencing range to ensure they pay the price for their destructive actions. As I stated earlier, your influential voice in this fight would have been incredibly helpful.
We also renewed our commitment to community policing and engagement by asking, for the first time in our history, public comment on our new use of force policy and the recommendations of my Community Policing Advisory Panel. A number of public meetings were held to hear directly from the community, one of which you attended on the South Side. That meeting was just one of the nearly 2,000 public meetings CPD has held in 2017 in our efforts to build community partnerships. To advance this goal, just the other day I announced a new office dedicated to community policing along with its leader, Deputy Chief Dwayne Betts.
It is no secret that CPD has been challenged to rebuild trust with the community at the same time we are working tirelessly to reduce gun violence. We have achieved a great deal in 2017 and I believe our collective actions as an agency have made it clear that we are serious and committed to achieving both of those goals. While no one in this city should be satisfied until every gun is put down, it is a disservice to the men and women of this department to suggest we are rudderless and ineffective.
Every day, every hour, and every minute, CPD works to identify how we can make this city safer and we are seeing results. I invite you to join me to visit a strategic decision support center to see firsthand a key component in our crime strategy, as well as the gun violence reductions we have seen this year. You will also have an opportunity to speak to our officers about their compassion and dedication to rid this city of gangs and illegal guns. Perhaps after your visit you will have a much better understanding of what we are doing to make Chicago safer.
Thank you for your service to Chicago.