ARCHER HEIGHTS — After briefing reporters at the scene of a police-involved shooting on the Southwest Side on Monday morning, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson abruptly changed the subject.
"This past weekend, the violence we saw is completely unacceptable," Johnson said. "But it highlights the uphill battle that we face in the city of Chicago."
Johnson was following up on an op-ed he penned for Friday's Sun-Times calling for judges and lawmakers to crack down on the tiny fraction of Chicago residents that he says have turned whole swathes of the city into war zones.
"The violence in Chicago is being driven by about 1,300 individuals who we already know," he said. "Until we can have real truth in sentencing, and hold these offenders accountable, this will be the unfortunate reality in the city of Chicago."
In the days after his column was published, 54 people were shot around the city, marking the most violent weekend since September 2015.
Police will have a hard time keeping a lid on the violence, Johnson said, until sentencing laws become tough enough to keep serial offenders behind bars.
To demonstrate his point, he pointed to both the victim and alleged shooter in a May 2 homicide in Hermosa. Together, Johnson said, the two men had racked up 80 arrests before the incident.
"As superintendent, I will ensure our officers are doing everything possible to get these dangerous, repeat offenders off the street," he wrote. "But if the courts put them right back on the street days or weeks later, all our work is washed away."
This wasn't the first time Johnson had blamed the courts for the city's ongoing plague of shootings. In March, less than a week before being named top cop, he held a news conference to the same effect.
"The criminal justice system in Chicago, as it is in the rest of the state of Illinois, is broken," Johnson said on March 23. "In the absence of stronger laws for repeat offenders, it fails to hold these individuals accountable and allows them to bring ... violent acts into our neighborhoods."
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