CHICAGO — Admitting "frustration" with the city's rising homicide rate, but also showing a determination to act on it, Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended a shakeup in police commanders Wednesday.
"Frustration, yes, but that's just not good enough," Emanuel said. "I am frustrated by how you can see dramatic progress in one level, because it's one of the largest declines in overall crime in a single year in the city, and yet a spike in shootings and homicides.
"I don't just take my frustration," he added. "I want to make the changes, hold people accountable, producing results."
Emanuel said he worked with Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Deputy Superintendent Al Wysinger in formulating the changes, foremost among them placing gang-unit Cmdr. Joe Gorman in charge of the Deering District, mirroring an earlier move placing Cmdr. Leo Schmitz in charge of Englewood.
"We have put into the 9th District somebody who has a background specifically in gangs because we've seen a specific spike in gang violence," Emanuel said at the close of a news conference trumpeting a new alliance with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to limit predatory payday and reverse-mortgage lending. "I want to have commanders who have a deep knowledge of the kinds of crimes that are committed in certain neighborhoods and communities."
Emanuel also defended police shows of force at gang funerals following a killing at a funeral last week.
"Funerals are sacred," he said. "When there's a gang funeral, given that they have shown no respect for a place of worship, we're going to change how they're going to operate. The Police Department's going to change the way they deal with gang funerals. If you cannot respect a place of worship at a time of a funeral, therefore we're going to show a different type of attitude. The police are going to treat gang funerals as a gang event, and people will be appropriately checked, patted down.
"Gang funerals are going to treated different, because there's no respect shown," Emanuel added.
Emanuel hammered repeatedly on the city's declining crime rate overall in car theft, burglary and armed robbery, but allowed it didn't minimize the rising homicide rate. He pointed to the gains made in Englewood as justification for the shakeup.
"A lot of people said what are you doing putting Leo Schmitz, a white guy, in a black neighborhood," Emanuel said. "Well, Leo Schmitz has produced about a 40 percent reduction in homicides."
Emanuel said he expected troubled areas to become as safe as his own Ravenswood neighborhood, adding, "I expect that throughout the city."