'CPD is in crisis': Arne Duncan lays out plan to curb Chicago violence, teases mayoral run

Arne Duncan’s slow-motion mayoral campaign rollout took another step Wednesday.

"I'm absolutely thinking about it," Duncan said about next winter’s mayoral election. 

A stronger indication of his intentions, though, was his scathingly detailed critique of the Chicago Police Department under Mayor Lori Lightfoot.  

He delivered it to a meeting of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, then took questions from reporters via video conference.

Duncan now works with anti-violence group Chicago CRED.

He said the two-year-long explosion of bloodshed has been made worse by strategic incompetence at the police department, including the fact that CPD now has 1,400 fewer officers than in 2019 when Lightfoot became mayor.

"We have a department that's been defunded," Duncan said. "Just as devastating, maybe more devastating, is we have a department extraordinarily demoralized right now."

Without naming Lightfoot or Supt. David Brown, Duncan blasted their decision to put 875 officers into citywide assignments. 

It’s a strategy Brown is now moving to undo.  

Duncan said it left some neighborhoods poorly protected, prompting top brass to cancel days off more frequently, adding to officer burnout. 

Duncan called for hiring many more civilians, as police departments in New York and Los Angeles already have, so that sworn officers could focus on the most important matters. 

"We want to rethink the role of police and having them focus on the violence," Duncan said. "Having them focus on homicides and shootings, trying to prevent the next one, trying to solve the one that just happened."

Since 2016, Chicago police have made an arrest in only 18-percent of cases where a person was shot.  That figure is only 8-percent in the Far South Side Roseland neighborhood, a community besieged by shootings and killings.


For her part, Lightfoot claimed Wednesday that Duncan once indicated he'd defund the police.

"Neighborhood after neighborhood, they don't want to defund our police department," the mayor said. "And somebody (is) proposing that we let the numbers drift down and take away resources from our department." 

Lightfoot has claimed Duncan said that in an opinion column he recently published.

Duncan said Chicago must add law enforcement resources. 

He said an analysis done with Bain Consulting estimated the true cost of criminal violence is about $7 billion a year, underscoring the damage it’s causing to the local economy.