CPD begins 2017 initiatives to reduce violence

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Following a deadly 2016, the Chicago Police Department announced plans Sunday to reduce the city’s violence in the new year.

Last year, five police districts on the South and West sides of the city accounted for the 65 percent increase in murders, according to a statement from Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. The majority of violence was not random, as more than 80 percent of shooting victims were identified by police as likely to be involved in gun violence. Attacks on officers also nearly doubled last year, Guglielmi said, which falls in line with statistics from the rest of the country.

Five districts on the North and Northwest sides saw declines in murder or remained the same, police said. Officers were able to recover about 8,300 guns, which was a 20 percent increase from 2015.

“CPD took more bad guys with guns off the street in 2016 than we did in 2015,” Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a Sunday afternoon press conference, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Some of the 2017 initiatives focus on hiring additional officers, funding economic growth and providing support for young men in violent neighborhoods, police said. By the end of the year, nearly 1,000 more beat officers, detectives, lieutenants, sergeants, field training officers and more will be working for the police department. The mayor will invest in mentoring programs for men in the 20 most violent neighborhoods and offer incentives for commercial retail and industrial developers. The mayor will also financially support the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and the Community Catalyst Fund, police said.

Another important focus will be working with state legislators on a bill that would increase sentencing for repeat gun offenders. Police call that a “key factor” in reducing Chicago’s violence. They hope by creating a culture of accountability, people might be deterred from violence. They are also working with the State’s Attorney’s office to strengthen how gun cases are investigated and prosecuted.

Johnson said “CPD can’t do it solely on its own, no one can.” But he later added that, “anybody in Chicago who’s a leader — anybody — if you think 700 murders last year is OK, then you shouldn’t be a leader. You shouldn’t be. It’s not OK.”

“If you give us the tools that we need to hold these individuals accountable, I promise you 2017 will be a much better, and safer, year for the city of Chicago,” Johnson said.

In the coming year, Chicago Police will also emphasize technology, training and transparency in the department, police said. By the end of the year, officers from all districts will wear body cameras. Gunshot detection systems are set to be expanded in District 7 and 11. In this same area, more than 44 street cameras were installed this past year.

More than 2,400 officers were trained in crisis intervention and learned skills to best help people with mental illness or in trauma and crisis situations, police said. As a result, those officers were able to respond to 13,258 incidents through October 2016.

For the first time, a revised use of force policy focused on the sanctity of life and was released for public comment, police said. The Community Policing Advisory Panel was a strategic effort to increase community-based policing and gain the trust residents. A few months into 2017, CPAP will make recommendations for a revised community policing strategy.

“The violence in 2016 was driven by emboldened offenders who acted without a fear of penalty from the criminal justice system,” Johnson said in his own 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.”