NORTH LAWNDALE — The Chicago Police Department's push to use technology to prevent gun violence and to lock up criminals quickly is paying off, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Supt. Eddie Johnson said Thursday.
They cited an average 22 percent drop in the number of shootings in some of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods.
That drop in shootings has been recorded in the six police districts on the West and South side covered by the Police Department's gunshot detection program and an expanded number of cameras as part of a "predictive crime strategy," the mayor and Johnson announced at the event designed to showcase the launch of the high-tech crime-fighting effort in the Ogden Police District.
"We are seeing significant signs of progress," Johnson said at the event, which also included 24th Ward Ald. Michael Scott and 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz.
Johnson allowed "we have a great deal of work ahead of us" but added, "it is clear that we are headed in the right direction."
Johnson said he was most encouraged that in some areas of the city, the number of shootings is below 2015 levels.
Ten days ago, Emanuel traveled to the Englewood Police District to tout a 43 percent drop in shootings in that district alone, the first police district to get a Strategic Decision Support Center.
The technology helps officials monitor crime — and track trends — in real time and redeploy officers quickly and relay crucial information to officers in the field via smartphone or in-car computer, officials said.
After being rolled out in the Englewood and Harrison police districts, the centers were later established in the Gresham; Deering and Austin police districts.
"It will give officers confidence to do their jobs proactively," Emanuel said.
Each center costs about $1.5 million, officials said.
The 2018 budget proposed by Emanuel includes funding for six more Strategic Decision Support Centers. The districts that will get the new technology include the Chicago Lawn, Pullman, South Shore, Grand Crossing and Grand Central police districts.
Emanuel and Johnson's remarks came one day after aldermen ripped Inspector General Joseph Ferguson for publicly calling out Johnson and Emanuel for what he said was their failure to implement a comprehensive crime strategy after his children's teacher was gunned down in Rogers Park.
"And let’s admit what we all know: Our city does not have a comprehensive crime strategy," Ferguson wrote in the opinion pages of the Sun-Times. "We desperately need one — and a leader to make it a reality. What we don’t need? Spinning an innovative technology-enhanced tactical pilot project as a crime strategy, which it is not."
Ferguson's remarks specifically referred to Emanuel's Strategic Decision Support Centers.
Emanuel acknowledged Thursday that technology cannot solve crimes itself.
"You could say I am enthralled with technology," Emanuel said. "But there are limitations. You need leadership."
Ferguson also urged Emanuel to stop holding "press conferences about short-term crime fighting 'wins.'"
"We all know better, and need, deserve and can do better," Ferguson wrote.