CHICAGO -- Speaking for the first time since 15 men were exonerated after they were allegedly framed by a corrupt former police sergeant, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson pledged to investigate police misconduct while highlighting a drop in shootings so far this year.
Weighing in on the controversy surrounding former Sgt. Ronald Watts, Johnson said the department is taking a close look at officers still on the force who may have been a part of Watts’ crew.
"There is zero tolerance for any officer not upholding the highest standards we have set for him and her," Johnson said. "When officers make mistakes, it’s my job to ensure that they get the support they need, the mentoring and the coaching and we put them back out on the street. But if officers engage in misconduct, then that’s a different story."
Johnson and Emanuel were originally scheduled to appear together not to discuss police corruption, but rather to highlight reduced violence in Englewood. With a month and a half left to go, Johnson says shootings have fallen across Chicago in 2017. In particular, shootings are down more than 40 percent in Englewood this year, according to CPD. Last month, they were down 70 percent.
"Right now Englewood has the least amount of shootings in recorded history for Englewood," Emanuel said.
Johnson says the violence is down thanks to the city’s reimagined crime fighting strategy, saying new technology like the department’s shot spotter system and strategic support centers allow officers to work smarter and monitor gang conflicts in real-time.
"In those centers we combine civilian crime analysts with predictive crime software, gunshot detection systems and high definition cameras," Johnson said.
Johnson called the progress promising, but admitted Chicago has a long way to go. This week, the city passed 600 homicides for the year. And recently, here has been a massive surge in carjackings.
"We’re seeing more juveniles commit these crimes. And the frustration is I think somehow they thought – mistakenly – that the police department wouldn’t come after them. Well, we will," Johnson said.
Johnson was asked if he would invite President Trump to Chicago for a ride-along with police. He was careful handling this question, saying he wishes people who live elsewhere would visit the Chicago. They’d see that the city "is not on fire," he said.
On the new technology, Johnson says Grand Crossing and South Chicago will get strategic support centers by the end of January, saying says this technology along new hires on the streets will make a difference.