CHICAGO — Following yet another weekend of gang violence and carjackings in Chicago, Monday’s budget hearing offered City Council an opportunity to grill the city’s top cop over his crime-fighting plan.
Facing city council members, Chicago police leaders testified as members examined Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $1.9 billion budget proposal for Chicago Police Department.
Chicago police Supt. David Brown used the occasion to paint a rosy picture of the department’s work.
“CPD at this point this year in 2021 has taken 9,470 illegally possessed weapons – many possessed by violent offenders – off the streets of Chicago,” Brown said. “We’ve also made more carjacking-related arrests this year than in 2020. Those arrests include over 1,000 people arrested for carjacking-related offenses. Our cops are doing their jobs and they’re doing their part.”
But with a department facing 1,000 vacancies, the superintendent admits he needs more officers.
“We have to get thousands of people to take our test,” Brown said. “Normally, what happens is if we got 100 people taking our test, only about 10 percent ends up being hired.”
The budget and staffing levels were not the only concerns. CPD’s ShotSpotter technology is also under intense scrutiny. A recent city’s Inspector General report concluded ShotSpotter changes police behavior and is not an effective tool in developing evidence of a gun-related crime.
“The Inspector General of Chicago found that only one in 10 ShotSpotter alerts in any evidence of shots being fired,” said Alderwoman Rosa Rodriquez Sanchez (33th Ward).
Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) said he no longer supports the shot spotter technology because he wants real solutions.
“I want real evidence-based investments in the things that actually keep us safe,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
The superintendent defended the technology.
“Gunshot detection technology has saved lives in the City of Chicago,” Brown said. “If one life is saved, we should keep that tool in our toolbox.”
After a full day of questions about Chicago’s violence surge, the superintendent voiced frustration with prosecutors and the courts.
“They’re doing their jobs in an extraordinary way but for the courts not holding violent offenders in jail longer, we’d be much safer than we are,” Brown said.