Clock Nearly Run Out For Police Supt. Weis
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UPDATED 02/28/11 10:00 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Widely criticized Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis had hours left on his contract Monday night, and it still wasn’t clear whether he would stay until a new mayor takes office in mid-May.
Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel met with exiting Mayor Richard Daley Monday morning to discuss the handoff of city government. Daley told reporters later in the day he would like Weis to stick around for the next couple of months — and left it at that. Emanuel did not clarify things, either.
“I’ll have more to say about that later,” Emanuel said Monday evening. “I think it’s very important, though, that we focus on what’s very important, and that is reducing crime and have a strategy to do that. The mayor and I had a good discussion on a host of issues today.”
An announcement about Weis could come Tuesday morning, a Daley spokesperson said.
Over the weekend, Weis said he had not yet spoken with Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who during the campaign said he would replace Weis.
“My contract runs (out) on March the first, so we probably could just leave it at that,” Weis told reporters at a Sunday news conference on another topic.
“When this positions ends, then I’ll probably look into doing something else,” he continued. “Hopefully I can do something here in Chicago — if not, I’ll go where a career would lead me.”
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Weis, a former FBI official, took his post in 2008 under Daley, at a time when the Police Department was plagued by scandals.
Most infamously at the time, Officer Anthony Abbate had been caught on videotape beating a female bartender half his size in a Northwest Side tavern. The surveillance tape was shown around the world, and lent to a perception that Chicago Police officers were out of control.
In September, hundreds of rank-and-file officers marched outside of Police Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave., demanding that he be let go.
Rank-and-file officers have said morale dropped after Weis took office, particularly after he subjected Officer Bill Cozzi to a new federal prosecution and prison time after the officer had already been convicted and sentenced to probation for beating a man in a wheelchair.
In a scathing criticism of Weis in a blog posting last year, Lt. John Andrews said officers feared similar reprisals for doing their jobs, and thus “have reduced their proactive performance and now only contribute at minimum levels.”
Weis has also been criticized for meeting with gang leaders last year and warning of consequences if they didn’t stop violence in city neighborhoods. Critics called it negotiating with urban terrorists.
But Weis told reporters on Sunday that he believes Chicago streets are safer since he took over.
“With being down more than 1,100 sworn positions in 2010, we had our lowest homicide total in 45 years and the lowest number of violent crimes since we tracked crime this way, and that started back in 1991,” Weis said.
Supporters said the meetings with gangs likely played a role in cutting the homicide rate.
But in his comments, he seemed to concede that the future of law enforcement and crime fighting in the city will be another official’s responsibility.
“I think it’s important that whoever is here will look at creative ways of doing things, because we can’t rely on the past where we throw more officers on it,” he said.