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After 'Unacceptable' Violence In 2016, CPD Looks To The Future

By Jen Sabella | January 2, 2017 10:50am | Updated on January 3, 2017 8:26am
 Inside the Chicago Police Academy on the Near West Side.
Inside the Chicago Police Academy on the Near West Side.
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Facebook/Chicago Police

CHICAGO — After a bloody 2016 saw at least 762 murders and 4,331 shooting victims, the Chicago Police Department is sharing its plan to curb the violence in 2017 and beyond. 

“The violence in 2016 was driven by emboldened offenders who acted without a fear of penalty from the criminal justice system,” said Supt. Eddie Johnson in a statement. “The challenge we face as a city is serious, and like other cities it is significant. We will be adding to our police department, we are committed to partnering with residents, we will benefit from the investments being made by the Mayor, and if we come together and work together I know we can turn the tide in 2017.”

Johnson, like his predecessor Garry McCarthy, spent most press conferences in 2016 begging state lawmakers to increase penalties for gun offenders without success. However, the department said Sunday it believes a bill promoting tough sentences for gun crimes will pass in January.

Officers recovered 8,300 guns from the streets in 2016, despite a significant increase in attacks on police, the department said in a statement. CPD said attacks on Chicago officers nearly doubled in 2016.

So, what's next? The department said it will continue to bang the drum on increased penalties for gun offenders, working with Kim Foxx, the newly-elected State's Attorney, to "strengthen how we investigate and prosecute gun cases."

"This strategy will also place a heavy emphasis on creating a culture of accountability for repeat violent offenders so that we actually have meaningful deterrents to gun crime and trigger pullers think twice about the consequences for their reckless actions," the department said. 

Here's what else CPD has planned: 


Working with the University of Chicago's crime lab, CPD said it plans to build trust in communities by taking a more "custom-tailored" approach to fighting crime. To do that, they're rolling out "district based intelligence centers" staffed by crime analysts from the university's Crime Lab along with local officers. On Jan. 20, the first centers will open in the 7th District (Englewood) and the 11th District on the West Side, which were the hardest hit by shootings in 2016. 

In New York, the U of C Crime Lab analyzed how things like street lights and keeping kids busy on the weekends can curb violence. In Chicago, they've backed programs including Becoming A Man, which works with teens to stop the "sort of impulsive, automatic responses that can lead to violence."


All Chicago Police officers will be equipped with body cameras by the end of 2017, with an additional eight police districts moving ahead of schedule to implement the program over the next year, said Town Hall District Cmdr. Marc Buslik last week. 

Already, 2,100 officers covering seven districts are using the cameras and have taken "more than 300,000 segments" of footage, police said. Officers, however, have discretion when it comes hitting "record." 

In the shooting death of Paul O'Neal, 18, in South Shore last year, the officer who pulled the trigger was wearing a camera, but it wasn't recording. This angered activists who hoped cameras would hold officers accountable when they shoot. Other videos from the shooting were ultimately released

Aside from body cameras, 44 new police cameras will go up in the city's two most violent districts -- the 7th and 11th on the South and West sides. 

Tasers have also been given to all officers, who have also been trained on when and how to properly use them, the department said. 

The push to use more Tasers came after police shot and killed Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier on Dec. 26, 2015 in Austin. LeGrier had been swinging a baseball bat and his father called police, the Jones family said at the time. Jones, who lived below LeGrier's father, was shot by police while answering her door. LeGrier was also shot and killed.

Chicago Police will also expand a program that uses a sound-based GPS system that "listens" for gunshots and reportedly allows officers to respond quicker.

The program, called ShotSpotter, now will monitor both the Englewood and Harrison police districts, covering 13.5 square miles, according to a Chicago Police news release. Those districts have seen the "majority of gun-related violence" this year, police said.

ShotSpotter electronically monitors for gunshots, giving officers a five-minute lead on responding to violence than typical 911 calls, police said. Police hope the expansion will allow officers to collect more evidence and information about shootings.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel's much-repeated pledge to hire nearly 1,000 officers over the next two years is already underway, the department said Sunday. 

By adding 100 new recruits per month through 2018, the department will go from 12,656 sworn officers to 13,535. The expansion will begin in the Englewood and Harrison districts. Emanuel has been criticized by the police union for failing to fill vacancies in the department over the years, instead relying on overtime. But the department now says it will fill the vacancies and still add 970 officers. 

Nationally, there has been a push to train officers to handle someone having a mental health crisis, and CPD said 2,400 officers are now up to that task thanks to Crisis Intervention training. 

There's also plans for a new Bureau of Professional Standards and shakeups in the Education and Training Division to "improve recruit, in-service and field training programs." 

Officers are also gearing up for some changes to its Use of Force policy, which the city opened up to the public for the first time in history. Residents were able to weigh in on things they found troubling in the existing policy, and the new policy is set to have a "heavy emphasis on the sanctity of life." 


Many of the plans CPD announced Sunday were discussed during Mayor Emanuel's public safety address in September,  including a $36 million mentorship program. The three-year program will focus on young men in 20 of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods. 

The mayor also touted a $100 million, taxpayer-financed "Community Catalyst Fund" that he claims will encourage investment in low-income areas and restore "vibrancy" to commercial and retail areas of areas like Pullman and Englewood. The fund, however, was criticized by some members of the City Council for lack of oversight. They ultimately approved the plan, however. 

CAPS, Chicago's long-standing community policing program, will also get an overhaul when a "revised" strategy is announced in the spring. 


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