CHICAGO — Fred Waller, Chicago’s interim police superintendent, visited a new trauma center at the old Carter G. Woodson School in North Kenwood on Tuesday and discussed efforts the city is implementing to combat crime.
Waller, the third person to lead CPD in less than six months, the fifth in the last four years, has been tasked with implementing the new Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s anti-crime strategy.
But Waller admits he needs more officers.
“I’m never gonna say we can’t use more manpower, more resources,” Waller said. “We’re really working our officers to a nub. We’re canceling days off all the time.”
As the city floods the streets with peace ambassadors, CPD is trying to strike the right balance between securing the city during daytime hours and at night.
“We plan for things happening more in the evening,” Waller added. “We do have officers out in the daytime also, of course, but we’re dealing with a lot of people who are just emboldened and they’re shooting people recklessly in the daytime also.”
CPD is adjusting to changing violence patterns, but thus far, those results are mixed. Juneteenth weekend in Chicago saw 13 people killed and 75 others shot.
“I would not have taken this job, coming out of retirement, if I didn’t know it was a challenge and that a challenge was ahead of me,” Waller said. “It’s not going to be easy. You’re not going to always see the improvement right before your eyes.”
According to police, there were 65 homicides in May, the fewest in Chicago in four years.
But consecutive violent weekends, beginning with Memorial Day, have fueled the perception that crime is increasing.
“No one, no one is feeling like this is a hopeless effort,” Waller said. “Everyone is still encouraged. Everyone is encouraging me to keep on doing the things that we’re doing.”
Waller took over the department on May 16, the day after Johnson was sworn in as mayor. Though he has more than three decades of police experience, Waller has stated that he does not want to be named the permanent CPD superintendent.