Chicago aldermen call for public safety hearing amid rising gun violence

Chicago Crime

CHICAGO — More than 20 city council members have called on the public safety committee chairman to hold hearings this week, following the recent explosion in gun violence.  

The group wants Alderman Chris Taliaferro to have hearings on: 

  • The Chicago Police Department’s summer mobile patrol unit, community safety team, and reallocation of officers and resources. 
  • Officer scheduling, deployment strategies, and programs or incentives for officer fatigue. 
  • Examining the success of technologies used to manage crime-fighting operations and personnel shortages. 

The councilmembers gave the committee until Tuesday, June 29, to finalize a hearing schedule for this week.  

If not, members say they will push for a special city council meeting and compel the CPD Superintendent David Brown to appear before the panel. 

Alderman Matt O’Shea of the 19th Ward was one of the 22 council members who signed the letter to Taliaferro that read, “We ask you to convene a meeting of the Committee on Public Safety,” and that “time is of the essences on these matters.”    

“This can’t wait – we need to have the superintendent before us,” O’Shea added.

On Monday, Brown citied gang conflicts, the proliferation of illegal guns, and little consequences in the justice system as factors driving the surge in crime. When asked about a specific plan for the Fourth of July weekend, he offered only a general answer: “Planning, planning, planning to the degree we have precision deployments around predicable areas for violent crime.”

Yet, O’Shea says he’s unsure that a plan is in place.

Other community activists echoed those sentiments.

“There is not one police model that you can show me that gets results in Chicago,” said Tio Hardiman, president of Violence Interrupters, Inc. He says with homicides up 4% and shootings up 13%, it’s time for new ideas.   

“Right now, we need people to answer some questions out here because if your strategies aren’t working, any effective leader would change their strategy if it’s not working,” he said.

Ald. Taliaferro told the Daily Line, “residents deserve to know what our department’s response has been to a violent past weekend in the city and the plan for this extended holiday weekend.” He added that he was “not opposed to having that conversation, whether it is by way of Committee or Special Council Meeting.”  

Some community members believe the work starts within, however.

“Nobody’s going to save us,” said criminal justice reform activist Will Calloway. “Let’s put an end to this madness. Come on, there’s babies getting shot in the streets.” 

In response to the special hearing request, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot seemed to quash the idea of Supt. Brown appearing before members, saying in part, in a written statement:

Transparency is a critical aspect of ensuring public safety and Aldermen have the ability to work directly with the Chicago Police Department toward ensuring that their respective wards’ needs and concerns are promptly addressed. Since January, all fifty Aldermen were given numerous opportunities to attend a series of briefings hosted by the Superintendent and his team covering the Police Department’s plan for summer deployments, summer operations, and the summer safety strategy.” 

Statement from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

City council’s plea comes after two separate mass shootings over the weekend that left two dead and 17 wounded. Last Sunday night in the South Shore, a group scattered when a gunman fired into a crowd, wounding five people and killing 23-year-old Kristina Grimes. Hours later, a shooting in the city’s Chicago Lawn neighborhood left 11 people injured, with one of the victims dying from their injuries, according to police.

Read more Chicago news headlines here.

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