Hillard Boosting Police Visibility, Puts 470 More Cops In Uniform

Updated 03/26/11 – 10:19 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Interim Chicago Police Supt. Terry Hillard said Friday that patrol officers are the backbone of the department, so he’s moving 70 officers from specialized units to patrol and putting 400 plainclothes tactical and gang unit officers in uniform.

Hillard said beat cops are the key to making neighborhoods safer by giving the department more visibility. Staffing and visibility are his priorities while he’s the city’s top cop until Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel picks his replacement.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

The superintendent said the moves will help stop crime from going up as the city heads into the warmer spring and summer months.

“Patrol, patrol, patrol,” Hillard said at a news conference at Police Headquarters to announce upcoming manpower changes.

Hillard said officers in uniform patrolling the streets form the backbone of the police department.

As CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports, Hillard has shifted more than 70 officers from specialized assignments to patrol and nearly 400 other officers who were in tactical assignments will also wear uniforms and hit the streets.

It’s a noticeable shift from his predecessor, Jody Weis, who focused on using citywide specialized and tactical units to respond to shifting crime hot spots based on the latest intelligence.

Although the redeployed officers did not come from the mobile strike force or targeted response unit that formed a key element of Weis’ crime-reduction strategy, Hillard did not rule out the possibility of that happening in the future.

“My mandate is going to be, unless you work in narcotics, there’s a possibility that any and everybody is going to be in patrol, even the command staff,” Hillard said.

Hillard said he knows his plan could draw criticism, but it’s a small price to pay for safer streets.

“I’m more than certain the mayor didn’t put me in this position to come over and get paid for 10 weeks just to sit up there and not do anything,” Hillard said. “The Police Department still has to run. We still have issues and concerns and crises that happen every day and we have to address them.”

Hillard said he wants more officers answering calls and getting to know residents and neighborhoods.

Police said they’ll target high crime areas first.

Emanuel, who has pledged to put 1,000 more beat officers on the street, said he likes the idea.

“I applaud that philosophy,” Emanuel said. “This decision to take police officers away from a specialized unit into a beat officer approach is one piece of a comprehensive approach.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimores reports

Hillard said beat officers need more help and this is the best way to give it to them.

Despite the continuing shake-up at the department, Hillard said he is doing nothing that is out of line with Chicago Police practice over the years, and said he intends to exit the interim superintendent’s job “right behind the mayor” when Daley leaves office May 16.

Hillard said he will order rigorous enforcement of curfew and a crackdown on parties and gatherings that can get out of hand during school breaks and warmer weather.

He also said that more than 140 police recruits are working to determine crime patterns in Area 2, which encompasses much of the South Side, and where some of the worst problems have occurred in recent years.

  • john glen

    do your thing police we need you. thank you terry sorry to see you go man we need officers on the street.

  • crab outside of the barrel

    470 + 140 + 1000 = 1,610 divided by high crime spots. just close the yellow barriers to the entrances at washington park by 7pm.

  • dan

    Yeah more police on the beat-sure. I know beat cops in the high crime districts and they don’t even bother to make traffic stops-don’t want to deal with the headache and paperwork-Having more cops on the beat will not reduce crime unless the beat cops are super proactive at rooting out the bad guys-just driving around in circles or parking in a dark parking lot to pass time until your shift is over will accomplish nothing-except maybe good press to give us northsiders the impression that something is being done-the good folks on the south and west sides that have to live alongside the thugs will not see their quality of life improve

  • Hal

    Hillard dosnt know his rear end from a hole in the ground–seems to me the fast response teams were utilized more that a cop sitting in the coffee shop—start watching closely cause the crime rate is going to soare this summer

  • swizzle

    i remember when Weis lowered the crime rate every quarter, but now we’re in an upsurge in all levels of violent crime. We had it good under Weis, now we’re back to where we started, but atlest the cops are happy he’s gone, i guess thats worth something, right?

  • issac

    Another King Coon going to lock up his brothers. Ha, fat chance. You all have a better chance of plucking hairs out of a Lions ass than see it happen.

  • reality

    Go Terry you da man! I love seeing all the blue lights flashing taking care of business.

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