CHICAGO (CBS) — Facing a significant spike in gun violence over the past several weeks, Chicago police plan to deploy an additional 1,200 officers to the streets for the Independence Day weekend, while still making sure every officer gets at least one day off this week.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said 1,200 extra officers will be on the streets each day from Thursday through Sunday.
“We’ll be deployed throughout our hotspots, we’ll be working with city services, we’re engaging our violence interrupters, and so it’s a full-court press,” Brown said Monday morning at Police Headquarters. “Our endgame is arrests for the precursors to violence, so every day we’re going to be clearing corners.”
The superintendent said open-air drug markets in Chicago act as a “pipeline to shootings and murders,” because drug and gang leaders recruit young people with little or no criminal history to hang out on corners with guns to protect their turf, knowing if they’re arrested for having a gun, they’ll soon be back out on the street because they don’t have lengthy criminal record.
“It’s an evil methodology. It’s why they’re on the corners, because it protects the masterminds,” Brown said. “They are there because there’s no opportunity in their neighborhood. They are there because of the failures, and many other social service opportunities are just not available to them, but that’s why they’re there; to feed their families. It’s a bad choice.”
Brown said he has lost sleep over the decision to require officers to work 12-hour shifts without a day off for long stretches over the last several weeks, so he didn’t use that tactic this past weekend, and will give officers at least one day off for the holiday weekend.
“One of the things we have been very apprehensive doing is continuing with overtime, because of how we had to use overtime the last several years, not just this year. There’s a limit to how many hours people can work,” Brown said. “Tired cops make mistakes, they do. This is not the time to make mistakes.”
CPD First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio said officers are not only overworked, but many have been physically attacked in recent weeks amid widespread civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In the last 30 days, Riccio said hundreds of officers have been injured in attacks at protests, at crime scenes, and in confrontations on the street.
Riccio said many officers also are coping with the mental and emotional fatigue of having to investigate the shooting deaths of several children over the past few weeks. At least two children were among the 17 people killed this weekend, and five other children were the weekend before that, when more than 100 people were shot in Chicago.
“We’re concerned about, always, their physical well-being, and sometimes their mental well-being gets overlooked,” Riccio said.
He said that’s why he has directed command personnel to personally reach out to officers who have either been attacked, or involved in investigations of the murders of children, to find out what they might need.
“We have a lot of resources available within the department. Sometimes there’s a resistance to utilize those resources,” Riccio said.
As he has repeatedly since becoming the city’s top cop, Brown said low bond amounts and allowing defendants to be released on electronic monitoring without sufficient supervision has helped fuel a surge in gun violence.
He also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced officials at Cook County Jail to release many inmates on electronic monitoring to reduce the population in lockup and prevent the spread of the virus, while courts have been unable to convene grand juries or trial juries for the past few months.
However, Brown said he’s not blaming prosecutors or judges, just stressing that everyone in the criminal justice system needs to help make sure violent offenders stay in jail longer.
“We’re talking about a very complex, very nuanced criminal justice system that’s not addressing the violence,” he said. “My hopes are that we make our case, that we make our case for something different in Chicago by way of consequences. That’s what I’m here saying, not pointing a finger, not starting a food fight. I’m trying to make a case.”