CHICAGO (CBS) — After more than 100 people were shot in Chicago this weekend, 13 of them fatally, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown doubled down on his stance that violent felons are not being held in jail long enough, and not being watched properly when they are released on home monitoring.
“On the heels of Father’s Day, I come to you again with obviously a high level of frustration and disappointment,” Brown said Monday afternoon.
According to Chicago police and data collected by CBS 2, at least 102 people were shot from 5 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday, including 12 children. At least 13 people were killed, including at least five children.
The children who were slain this weekend included 3-year-old Mekhi James, who was shot in the back while riding in a car with his stepfather in the Austin neighborhood on Saturday; 13-year-old Amaria Jones was struck by gunfire while inside her house Saturday night in the Austin neighborhood; two boys — ages 16 and 17 — who were gunned down as they were walking home from buying candy in the South Chicago neighborhood; and a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the leg, chest, and abdomen in a drive-by shooting early Monday in the Austin neighborhood (a 16-year-old boy also was wounded in that shooting, but survived).
“Children in Chicago should not have to worry about walking just blocks from home to buy candy, and never returning,” Brown said.
The superintendent defended his department’s preparations for the weekend’s violence, and officers’ work to respond to the bloodshed, repeating a claim he made Sunday that too many violent felons are released on home monitoring when they’re arrested for a new crime, but then are not actually monitored.
“Our cops are working hard. There are too many violent offenders not in jail, or on electronic monitoring, which no one is really monitoring,” Brown said. “We need violent felons to stay in jail longer, and we need improvement in home monitoring.”
Brown said police officers made 43 gun-related arrests over the weekend, and recovered 77 firearms.
According to published reports, the weekend’s total number of shootings was the most in one weekend in Chicago since 2012. Asked how the Chicago Police Department might change its strategies in the wake of the historic bloodshed, Brown said, “We’re constantly adjusting, readjusting, redeploying our resources based on real-time crime data.”
“But at the end of the day, our endgame strategy is arresting violent felons, and if violent felons don’t spend enough time in jail, we need more cooperation and collaboration from other parts of the system, and we expect that we will collaborate,” he said.
At a separate event Monday afternoon, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she still has confidence in Brown’s leadership at CPD.
“I can’t even believe that someone would even ask the question. Superintendent Brown has been here for eight weeks. He is a tremendous leader. He has walked into a very difficult circumstance that other police superintendents and chiefs are facing across the country. Policing in the time of COVID is not easy, and no one should underestimate the level of challenges that are there,” she said. “I think David Brown is a great leader. I think he’s dug in, he really understands the department well, and I think he’s going to end up being one of the best superintendents in the history of the department.”
Meantime, the superintendent noted that officers have been working 12-hour shifts for most of the past three weeks.
“They’re human and they’re tired. They are very professional, and I am so proud of the work that they’re putting in, given the circumstances that they’re in,” he said.
First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio said the department’s command staff visited all 22 districts this weekend to talk to officers “and reassure them that we appreciate the hard work that they’re doing, and the sacrifices that they’ve been making.”
“Nobody is happy about the level of violence, obviously, and we’re going to continue to work to address that violence, and continue to work to try to bring safety to a lot of these communities where we’re seeing all the shootings and murders,” Riccio said. “The level of violence is completely unacceptable when you see a 3-year-old killed, a 13-year-old killed. It’s absolutely not acceptable, and we’re going to continue to address it.”
However, Brown denied that CPD was pointing the finger at others in the justice system to avoid blame for gun violence in Chicago.
“I’m not into finger-pointing, I’m into collaboration,” he said. “I think we are more likely to move the needle if we collaborate and not point the finger.”
Brown has said he would like to see Chicago get its annual murder total below 300, a level it hasn’t seen since the 1950s, but the city already is on pace to surpass 300 murders before the end of June.
Asked if he’s underestimated just how firmly entrenched Chicago’s gun violence has become, Brown acknowledged “There’s no Easy Button to cutting murders down to 300 or below,” but said he’s still committed to that goal.
“If New York can do it, if LA can do it, there’s no reason why Chicago can’t do it, and we have to believe we can do it,” he added. “I believe in Chicago, and I believe we can achieve above and beyond what we are currently doing.”
“If I thought it was an easy job, I wouldn’t have applied. Police officers have pretty much the same sentiment. This is the life we chose. It’s never easy,” he added.