On Monday morning, Mayor Johnson, and his choice to lead the Chicago police, Larry Snelling, attended a department graduation and promotion ceremony. At the ceremony, the department promoted more than 50 detectives, a step forward in Mayor Johnson’s goal to promote 200 more officers to the position.
Department staffing has been under the microscope recently. During the last mayoral campaign, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara predicted an exodus of officers if Brandon Johnson was elected, but it has not happened, in fact, CPD has seen an increase in officers year over year.
According to the Chicago Inspector General, CPD currently has 11,722 sworn officers. Last August, there were 111 fewer officers. But CPD still has 1,600 fewer officers than it did in January 2019.
The department continues to face recruitment challenges and one city official wants police to change their strategy.
“We need more [police] regardless of whether or not there’s been a mass exodus at any given snapshot period of time. The fact remains that recruiting and hiring is not keeping pace with retirements and departures,” Alderman Brian Hopkins said.
Hopkins, the Chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, says efforts to recruit ex-military have mostly stalled. Staffing is not the only challenge facing the department, according to Hopkins. He says leadership needs to tweak the overall strategy.
“We’re seeing armed robbery sprees that are happening all over the city,” Hopkins said. “Today’s criminals are doing things that were unheard of a decade ago, we have to keep pace with them. We have to adjust to what the new level of crime is in Chicago.”
The City Council will soon take up the appointment of Larry Snelling, a veteran officer and lifelong South Sider, as the city’s next police superintended. Hopkins says he endorses the pick.
“He was the one I was hoping would be selected by the mayor, so we’re starting off with a degree of optimism,” Hopkins said. “I want to have some faith in his long experience in Chicago. He understands this city, every street, every corner, every park, every alley, he’s from here and I’m sure his heart is broken when he looks out and sees massive criminal activity happening unfettered and so he’s motivated to change that.”
Alderman Hopkins expects the city to ask Springfield for more drone technology and surveillance cameras to aid police, but many city officials say improving recruitment and morale will be key.