Top cop asks for pa­tience

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY STE­FANO ESPOSITO, STAFF RE­PORTER ses­pos­ito@sun­times.com | @sle­spos­ito Con­tribut­ing: Fran Spielman

Af­ter a par­tic­u­larly bloody week­end that saw 64 peo­ple shot, 13 fa­tally, the city’s po­lice su­per­in­ten­dent Mon­day asked for pa­tience from the pub­lic as he pre­pares to im­ple­ment his crime-fight­ing strate­gies.

“At some point, I’ll wel­come the crit­i­cism, but not be­fore it starts. It’s not even cre­ated yet,” Supt. David Brown said, talk­ing to re­porters at po­lice head­quar­ters.

Last week, Chicago po­lice an­nounced they will cre­ate a city­wide vi­o­lent crime unit af­ter three con­sec­u­tive week­ends with at least 65 peo­ple shot and mul­ti­ple chil­dren killed.

The spe­cial­ized unit is meant “to tackle vi­o­lent crime and cre­ate com­mu­nity part­ner­ships in some of our most chal­leng­ing ar­eas,” the depart­ment said.

“The ul­ti­mate goal of the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment’s or­ga­ni­za­tional re­struc­tur­ing that be­gan ear­lier this year has al­ways been to bol­ster po­lice re­sources under the au­thor­ity of dis­trict com­man­ders, while also be­ing able to ad­dress spikes in vi­o­lent crime city­wide,” the depart­ment said at the time.

On Mon­day, Brown crit­i­cized a re­porter for “con­flat­ing” the week­end’s events with the planned pro­gram.

“Don’t be so jaded. Have some op­ti­mism. It’s Mon­day,” he said. “We can’t quit. We can’t give up.

“Stand by, you’ll see com­mu­nity polic­ing on steroids in this depart­ment.”

As he has said re­peat­edly in the past, Brown called the is­sue of gun vi­o­lence a com­plex prob­lem that can’t be ad­dressed by po­lice alone.

“I’ll be here ev­ery Mon­day an­swer­ing ques­tions about the week­end, but if I’m the only one an­swer­ing ques­tions ... then noth­ing will change,” he said.

Brown said young peo­ple in some of the city’s poor­est neigh­bor­hoods need to have le­git­i­mate op­tions to “par­tic­i­pate in the Amer­i­can dream, see a fu­ture.”

“They need a real op­por­tu­nity to learn a trade, to be part of the cap­i­tal­ist mar­ket and not driven to only see the drug mar­ket as the only le­git­i­mate way to make money,” he said.

Later Mon­day, Mayor Lori Light­foot was asked when Chicagoans can ex­pect to see some progress in the never-end­ing war against gang vi­o­lence.

“If you dig into the num­bers, what you’re gonna see is we are mak­ing progress ev­ery week­end in dif­fer­ent parts of the city,” the mayor said.

“But, the re­al­ity is, [when] you look at the root causes of vi­o­lence, this is gen­er­a­tions of lack of in­vest­ment. Gen­er­a­tions where we haven’t cre­ated real op­por­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly for young men of color. And they be­lieve that their destiny is on the cor­ner. We’re not gonna change that around in a few weeks.”

Light­foot said the ef­forts she is mak­ing — both in short-term street interventi­ons and longer term in neigh­bor­hood in­vest­ments — al­ready are pay­ing off.

“Is any­body sat­is­fied with where we are? Of course not. So, we’ve got to re-dou­ble our ef­forts,” the mayor said. “It has to be an all-hands-on-deck, com­mu­nity-fo­cused and com­mu­nity-driven ef­fort.”

AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

Chicago Po­lice Supt. David Brown says gun vi­o­lence is a com­plex prob­lem that can’t be ad­dressed only by the po­lice.

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