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More Supervisors, Better Training Coming To Police Department, Top Cop Says

By Erica Demarest | March 14, 2017 7:06pm | Updated on March 17, 2017 11:34am
 Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Tuesday outlined reform goals for 2017. File photo.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Tuesday outlined reform goals for 2017. File photo.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

BRONZEVILLE — Retooling training, hiring more supervisors and adjusting how and when officers use lethal force were at the top of Eddie Johnson's list Tuesday as the Chicago Police superintendent rolled out reform goals for 2017.

"The challenges we face were not created overnight," Johnson said. "In fact, some have taken decades to develop. So they won't be fixed overnight. But it's important to lay the groundwork for where we're headed as a department."

Johnson met with reporters inside Chicago Police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. on Tuesday afternoon.

The top cop called community trust "the cornerstone of effective 21st century policing."

The Community Policing Advisory Council is expected to make recommendations this month for re-establishing community relationships.

Johnson said training for both new recruits and the city's more than 12,000 active officers will be revamped to incorporate the "latest tools, tactics and techniques."

First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro will head a newly formed training oversight committee.

Hiring more supervisors is a top priority, Johnson said. He believes allowing sergeants to oversee smaller groups of officers will improve the quality of supervision, he said.

Johnson said he plans to adjust the city's use-of-force guidelines sometime this year after citizens are allowed to review a draft and offer suggestions. Everything from the use of guns and pepper spray to how canine units interact with civilians will be tweaked in an effort to "emphasize the sanctity of life and reasonable and proportional use of force."

The top cop called initial citizen input on use-of-force policy changes "very valuable."

"Listen," Johnson said, "we have to acknowledge that we don't know everything. For me, personally, it's more important that we get this right than to rush [changes] through."

Outgoing federal prosecutor Zachary Fardon on Monday wrote a public letter outlining a five-point plan to reduce Chicago's gun violence. Fardon, who has been the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois since 2013, said Chicago needs 15 to 20 more U.S. attorneys immediately.

"If you want more federal gang and gun prosecutions, we need more full-time, permanent federal prosecutors in Chicago" Fardon said. "That's simple math."

President Donald Trump has ordered a hiring freeze on federal employees, making such an expansion unlikely.

RELATED: Here's What Causes Violence And How To Stop It: Former Top Federal Lawyer

Johnson on Tuesday said he agreed with Fardon's stance.

"The violence in Chicago is clearly a gun issue," Johnson said. "So until we create that culture of accountability, we're going to keep going in a cycle. I agree with him."

Johnson said it could take years to see the full effect of widespread reform in the Chicago Police Department. But he believes the seeds of change are already sprouting.

"If you go out there now, CPD is different now than it was last year," Johnson said.