CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago police chief said on Monday that he plans to flood the city streets with additional officers over the long weekend of July 4, in an effort to avoid a repeat of particularly bloody recent weekends and despite pressure to keep overtime to a minimum.
“We didn’t do this past weekend and Memorial Day weekend,” said Superintendent David Brown of the two weekends that ended, killing a total of 111 people, killing 24. “This weekend … we have 1,200 additional agents every day from Thursday to Sunday.”
Brown took over from Superintendent during the coronavirus pandemic, when there was a furious attempt to release as many prisoners as possible to prevent them from catching the virus. The number of prisoners in Cook County prison fell by more than 1,600 between May 1 and June 1. But on Monday, Brown promised to force others in the criminal justice system to detain those arrested for drug and gun possession longer.
“We beg (with the legal system) to keep them in jail for the weekend,” he said, explaining that the people arrested for dealing or buying drugs on street corners may not be charged with violent crimes, but that such activities often lead to gunfights between violent gangs.
As his predecessors did when talking about a bloody weekend, Brown said the most recent spasm of gunfire ended not only with the deaths of rival gang members, but with the killing of children. This time, the innocent victims were a 1-year-old driving a car with his mother and a 10-year-old girl who was in her house when a bullet fired a block away pierced a window and hit her in the head while sitting on a Bank.
Brown also hinted at the realities of life in some neighborhoods where residents are reluctant to provide information that can help investigators solve violent crimes because they don’t trust the police.
“For God’s sake, for the sake of Chicago’s children, please help us bring these murderers to justice,” said Brown, calling the gunmen “bad bastards.”
“Silence empowers those who continue to terrorize our neighborhoods,” he said.
There is no doubt that the weekend of July 4 is the biggest test for Brown since he became superintendent two months ago, largely because the bloodshed during the long Memorial Day weekend – when 49 people were shot, including 10 who died – was widely considered as a failure in his first big test at work.
While mayors are typically so reluctant to criticize superintendents so early in their tenure, Mayor Lori Lightfoot didn’t speak up after Memorial Day weekend, though she has since claimed to still have confidence in Brown.
“This was a failure, and whatever the strategy was, it didn’t work,” Lightfoot told reporters at the time.
Chicago typically experiences more gun violence during holiday weekends in the warmer months, so it was especially worrisome that the bloodshed on non-party weekends after Memorial Day has continued at an alarming rate.
After a bloody Father’s Day weekend in which more than 100 people were shot, 14 of them fatally, this most recent weekend ended with 62 people, including 14 fatally.
In total, the city that has seen the number of shootings drop in the past three years, this year is a different story as there were 82 more murders and 530 more casualties in nearly six months of the year than during the same period last year .
In addition to a jump in violent crime, the department has also faced the consequences of disturbing and embarrassing incident videos involving officers involved in protests and unrest following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. A video showed an officer making an obscene gesture to protesters, while another showed officers smashing the windows of a car and ripping out two unarmed women. The most recent video showed agents lounging in a congressman’s office while people broke into nearby stores during a night of turmoil.
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