Slow­down in polic­ing caused by ‘month of civic up­ris­ing,’ Light­foot says — not de­fen­sive crouch

Slow­down in po­lice ac­tiv­ity due to a ‘month of civic up­ris­ing,’ mayor says

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - FRAN SPIEL­MAN RE­PORTS,

Mayor Lori Light­foot on Wed­nes­day traced a June de­cline in po­lice ac­tiv­ity to demon­stra­tions tied to the death of Ge­orge Floyd, cat­e­gor­i­cally deny­ing that Chicago cops had re­turned to a de­fen­sive crouch be­cause they fear she won’t back them.

Light­foot said June was a “month of civic up­ris­ing” and po­lice of­fi­cers were tied up “mak­ing sure that peo­ple could safely” ex­press their First Amend­ment rights.

“The first two weeks in June, we had prob­a­bly five to 10 marches ev­ery sin­gle day. So, yeah, they weren’t mak­ing traf­fic stops and they weren’t mak­ing a lot of ar­rests be­cause they were busy in mak­ing sure that the peo­ple [who] were out in the streets in their right­eous in­dig­na­tion over the mur­der of Ge­orge Floyd were able to ex­press them­selves safely.”

The Sun-Times re­ported this week that as mur­ders soared dur­ing the month of June, po­lice ac­tiv­ity plum­meted.

Dur­ing the first 28 days of June, the num­ber of mur­ders was up 83% com­pared with the same pe­riod a year ago. Mean­while, ar­rests were down 55%. Street stops fell by 74%, and traf­fic stops dropped by 86%.

Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Pres­i­dent John Catan­zara has blamed rock-bot­tom morale and dis­trust of Light­foot for the dra­matic slow­down in po­lice ac­tiv­ity.

Light­foot said that’s lit­tle more than pos­tur­ing tied to her de­mand for dis­ci­plinary changes in the new po­lice con­tract.

“That’s easy for the lead­er­ship of the FOP to mouth those words be­cause we’re in what they know are gonna be re­ally, re­ally, re­ally tough con­tract talks . . . . You’re gonna hear a lot of noise from the FOP. That’s part of the game,” the mayor said.

Fresh from a vic­tory in ar­bi­tra­tion with po­lice su­per­vi­sors that won her the right to ac­cept anony­mous com­plaints, Light­foot said she is de­ter­mined to “win” a sim­i­lar vic­tory over the FOP to make it easier to in­ves­ti­gate and dis­ci­pline way­ward of­fi­cers.

“We’re gonna make sure — just like we did with the sergeants, lieu­tenants and cap­tains con­tract — that the FOP con­tract, for the first time in our his­tory, is ac­tu­ally gonna speak the val­ues of the res­i­dents of Chicago,” she said.

In the fall of 2015, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel con­tended dur­ing a closed-door meet­ing with then-At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch and 20 big-city may­ors and po­lice chiefs that po­lice of­fi­cers across the na­tion were be­com­ing “fe­tal” be­cause they were afraid their video­taped en­coun­ters with the pub­lic will end up on YouTube.

Less than two months later, the pull­back by Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers got dra­mat­i­cally worse, af­ter the court-or­dered re­lease of the video show­ing white Po­lice Of­fi­cer Ja­son Van Dyke shoot­ing black teenager Laquan McDon­ald 16 times.

On Wed­nes­day, Light­foot scoffed at those who say po­lice of­fi­cers have gone fe­tal again for fear of be­ing caught on the next cell­phone video gone vi­ral.

The mayor noted that, dur­ing a 10-day pe­riod in June, Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers took “al­most 600 il­le­gal crime guns off the street.”

“You can’t take that level of guns off the street, which is an his­toric num­ber in a 10day pe­riod — un­less you’re do­ing your job. Un­less you’re putting hands on folks and you’re tak­ing guns off of peo­ple who would do harm in our streets,” the mayor said.

“To judge June out of con­text and not throw in there, by the way, these guys are hus­tling and do­ing a lot of work — that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Catan­zara has ar­gued the pull­back by po­lice of­fi­cers is un­de­ni­able. The anti-po­lice move­ment sweep­ing the na­tion af­ter Floyd’s death is “worse than Laquan McDon­ald” in part be­cause of Light­foot, he said.

“Af­ter the McDon­ald shoot­ing, there were out­cries for po­lice change, but noth­ing at this level or vol­ume. And as much as peo­ple de­spised Rahm, there was a lit­tle sup­port at least or un­der­stand­ing that this was an iso­lated in­ci­dent. It wasn’t a call from the fifth floor of City Hall to fire ev­ery po­lice of­fi­cer who did ev­ery lit­tle, tiny trans­gres­sion . . . . But, that is ex­actly what our mem­bers are fac­ing from Mayor Light­foot,” he said.

“Of course, 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 life­and-death sit­u­a­tion. They’re go­ing to stop and think first be­fore they act.”

ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES

A man is taken into cus­tody in June as Chicago po­lice clash with pro­test­ers near East 71st Street and South Chap­pel Av­enue.

Mayor Lori Light­foot

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