(CBS) – Conceding the Chicago Police Department has an image problem, Interim Police Supt. John Escalante says his agency will do its best to regain the public’s trust as the new year unfolds.

“We know we’ve got a lot of tough questions to answer as we move forward into 2016,” Escalante told reporters during a news conference Thursday night.

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Asked if earning the trust of certain communities is his department’s No. 1 priority, Escalante responded: “Without a doubt.”

The last couple of months have been rough for Chicago police, in the wake of the court-ordered release of dashcam video showing a white officer fatally shooting black teen Laquan McDonald during an encounter in October 2014. Critics of the Emanuel administration say authorities conspired to keep the racially charged incident quiet while the city worked out a legal settlement with McDonald’s family.

Mayor Emanuel fired his hand-picked police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, but protests have persisted. Controversy flared again last weekend, when a police officer responding to a West Garfield Park domestic call fatally shot two individuals, including a 55-year-old woman who was accidentally hit.

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Escalante, a Chicago Police Department veteran, says he has imposed a number of reforms, even as the U.S. Department of Justice and a separate mayoral task force look at systemic problems in CPD.

“We’ve had some good this year and we’ve had some bad,” Escalante said.

“The good we want to keep our officers focused on. But the bad, and the issues that have come up, specifically in the last two months of the year, we have to focus on as well, and we have to work on correcting some of those issues and addressing those issues and answering those questions that a lot of people have asked of us.”

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Escalante was at the 18th District to attend a roll call of officers on New Year’s Eve. He said he planned to talk with them about “de-escalation” tactics that can help avoid the use of force.