Chicago Sun-Times

CPD SLOW­DOWN

Chicago po­lice ac­tiv­ity re­gressed amid June’s steep rise in gun vi­o­lence; union blames low morale

- BY FRANK MAIN AND FRAN SPIEL­MAN Staff Re­porters Police brutality · Crime · Incidents · Lori Lightfoot · Chicago Police Department · Rahm Emanuel · Minneapolis · United States of America · Congress of the United States · Donald Trump · J.B. Pritzker · Young Buck · Bobby Rush

As the number of mur­ders in Chicago soared in June, there was a huge slow­down of po­lice ac­tiv­ity that the po­lice union blames on rock-bot­tom morale and dis­trust of Mayor Lori Light­foot.

In the first 28 days in June, the number of mur­ders was up 83% com­pared with num­bers from the same pe­riod in 2019, Chicago Po­lice De­part­ment sta­tis­tics show.

And the number of ar­rests was down 55%, street stops fell by 74% and traf­fic stops dropped by 86%.

Po­lice Supt. David Brown said Mon­day that po­lice ac­tiv­ity slowed be­cause fewer peo­ple have been on the streets “be­cause of COVID.”

But John Catanzara, pres­i­dent of the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice, said Tues­day it’s more than that.

“I’m not telling them not to do po­lice work,” Catanzara said of his mem­bers. “But I hope they just slow down and de­cide ‘Is this nec­es­sary?’ be­fore they do it.”

The city saw a ma­jor de­cline in po­lice ac­tiv­ity af­ter the 2015 re­lease of the video show­ing Laquan McDon­ald be­ing shot 16 times by a Chicago po­lice of­fi­cer who ended up going to prison for sec­ond-de­gree mur­der. Then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicago cops were “going fe­tal” at the time.

Catanzara ac­knowl­edged the coro­n­avirus is a big fac­tor but said cops have re­turned to a de­fen­sive crouch be­cause they don’t think they have Light­foot’s sup­port. And he said the an­tipo­lice move­ment that has spread na­tion­wide since Ge­orge Floyd’s killing by a Min­neapo­lis cop is “worse than Laquan McDon­ald.”

Catanzara pointed to Light­foot’s com­ments at a news con­fer­ence con­demn­ing of­fi­cers ac­cused of sleep­ing on a couch, pop­ping popcorn and drink­ing cof­fee in U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush’s cam­paign of­fice while, she said, loot­ers plun­dered the same strip mall.

“Same thing she said to Trump: ‘Be­gins with an F and ends with a U.’ That’s what she said to the po­lice with that whole press con­fer­ence,” said Catanzara, who doesn’t think those of­fi­cers did any­thing wrong.

“It’s going to cause of­fi­cers to pause and say: ‘I want to go home to­day safe. I want to make sure I keep my job. And I want to make sure I don’t go to jail.’ It’s not going to be ‘re­act first’ un­less it’s a life-and-death sit­u­a­tion. They’re going to stop and think first be­fore they act.”

Po­lice ac­tiv­ity slowed sig­nif­i­cantly in March af­ter Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home or­der be­cause of the coro­n­avirus, the Sun-Times found. From mid-March to mid-April, the number of mur­ders fell 13%, ar­rests plum­meted 70%, street stops dropped 64% and traf­fic stops fell 84% com­pared with last year.

But the po­lice slow­down con­tin­ued as the city was grad­u­ally re­open­ing in June amid a stag­ger­ing rise in vi­o­lence.

In the Har­ri­son District on the West Side, for in­stance, ar­rests were down 55% and mur­ders up 71% com­pared with 2019.

City­wide, the number killed or wounded in shoot­ings in June rose 110% — to 541 vic­tims — com­pared with June 2019.

Mean­while, there were about 3,330 ar­rests, a 55% de­cline, and about 3,800 peo­ple were stopped on the street, a 74% drop.

Gun ar­rests, though, were up 45%.

Ald. Chris Tali­a­ferro (29th), chair­man of the City Coun­cil’s Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Safety, said the drop in po­lice ac­tiv­ity is the re­sult of Pritzker’s or­der and the city’s grad­ual re­open­ing.

“Busi­nesses have not opened up to full ca­pac­ity,” he said. “A lot more folks are not get­ting out.”

Tali­a­ferro pointed to 22 gun ar­rests and 66 gun re­cov­er­ies last week­end as ev­i­dence of­fi­cers are do­ing their jobs ag­gres­sively and in­tel­li­gently.

“Our po­lice of­fi­cers don’t want to be the next head­line,” he said. “But I don’t think they’re be­ing ‘fe­tal’ and not per­form­ing their jobs as po­lice of­fi­cers.”

“There is going to be some hes­i­tancy as far as en­gage­ment. I would not ex­pect any­thing dif­fer­ent from any other of­fi­cer in the coun­try. We are look­ing at chang­ing the scope of polic­ing as we cur­rently know it.”

Brown, the former po­lice chief in Dal­las, started April 15 and al­ready has seen his goal of a sub-300 mur­der year evap­o­rate. As of June 28, Chicago had seen 322 killings this year against 242 in the same pe­riod last year. The mur­der to­tal for all of 2019 was 492.

Among the lat­est killings, 3-year-old Mekhi James was shot to death June 20 as he rode in the back seat of a car. He was one of more than 100 peo­ple shot in Chicago that week­end.

On Mon­day, Brown said: “The shock waves through­out this de­part­ment, through­out the coun­try, were sig­nif­i­cant as it re­lates to, ‘What is COVID? Will I take this back to my fam­ily?’ And so there was a drop-off in po­lice in­ter­ac­tions with peo­ple, No. 1.”

He also noted that more peo­ple have been re­leased on bail dur­ing the pan­demic and that crim­i­nal tri­als are on hold.

“Ev­ery­thing else came to a stop,” he said. “And these mur­der­ing, evil bas­tards have taken ad­van­tage of these sit­u­a­tions.”

“IT’S GOING TO CAUSE OF­FI­CERS TO PAUSE AND SAY: ‘I WANT TO GO HOME TO­DAY SAFE. I WANT TO MAKE SURE I KEEP MY JOB. AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE I DON’T GO TO JAIL.’ IT’S NOT GOING TO BE ‘RE­ACT FIRST’ UN­LESS IT’S A LIFE-AND-DEATH SIT­U­A­TION. THEY’RE GOING TO STOP AND THINK FIRST BE­FORE THEY ACT.”

JOHN CATANZARA, pres­i­dent of the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice

 ?? TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES ?? Chicago po­lice in­ves­ti­gate where mul­ti­ple peo­ple were shot in the 9200 block of South El­lis Av­enue last week. As the number of killings over June’s first 28 days was up 83% over the same pe­riod in 2019, the num­bers of ar­rests, traf­fic stops and other po­lice ac­tiv­ity plum­meted.
TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES Chicago po­lice in­ves­ti­gate where mul­ti­ple peo­ple were shot in the 9200 block of South El­lis Av­enue last week. As the number of killings over June’s first 28 days was up 83% over the same pe­riod in 2019, the num­bers of ar­rests, traf­fic stops and other po­lice ac­tiv­ity plum­meted.
 ?? TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES ?? Chicago po­lice in­ves­ti­gate the scene where mul­ti­ple peo­ple were shot on June 23 in the 9200 block of South El­lis Av­enue.
TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES Chicago po­lice in­ves­ti­gate the scene where mul­ti­ple peo­ple were shot on June 23 in the 9200 block of South El­lis Av­enue.
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