BRIDGEPORT — More than 100 new detectives will hit Chicago's streets this spring and fill all of the department's vacant positions, officials said Monday.
The 131 new detectives — who began their training Monday after being lauded by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson — will be charged will solving the more than 100 murders already recorded in Chicago in 2017.
Johnson called the fact that the department only solves less than 30 percent of murders terrible, and said it was one of the reasons he asked Emanuel to hire more detectives and fill positions that had been vacant for months.
But Johnson said some of the blame lies with Chicagoans who are reluctant or unwilling to help police make arrests and close cases.
"We need the community to step up and tell everyone this won't be tolerated," Johnson said.
After completing the eight-week training, the officers will join the 135 detectives promoted last month, officials said.
Emanuel has promised to add 970 positions to the Police Department over the next two years: 516 police officers, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants and 92 field training officers. The department also will fill 500 vacant positions.
Both Johnson and Emanuel told the detectives in training that they will have to do more than police work to solve cases, with the mayor noting that while cases may be a number to them, they represent a loved one for the victim's friends and relatives.
Johnson said officers should offer everyone they come in contact with an "empathetic ear" and realize that everyone they deal with will most likely be suffering through the worst day of their lives.
Emanuel and Johnson have vowed to implement reforms ordered by federal officials after a Department of Justice investigation found Chicago officers routinely used excessive force against minorities and tolerated "racially discriminatory conduct" by officers.
That investigation was harshly critical of the department's ability to solve murders and deal professionally with the victim's families.
"Families told us of detectives not interviewing key homicide witnesses or suspects, declining to obtain relevant video footage, and failing to update parents on the status of investigations, or even return their calls," investigators wrote in the report.
In 2016, CPD was able to identify a suspect in only 29 percent of all homicides, which is less than half the national rate for 2015, according to the report.
The report recommends rebuilding the department's reputation in the neighborhood's hit hardest by crime and violence by renewing officers emphasis on community policing, an effort Emanuel and Johnson have introduced.
Johnson declined to criticize Emanuel — whom he introduced to the new detectives as the police department's biggest supporter — or his predecessor, former Supt. Garry McCarthy.
"I'm not going to look back," Johnson tole reporters.