Alderman: Weis falling short

July 9, 2008 4:37:55 PM PDT
An influential alderman says Chicago's new police superintendent is falling well short of expectations.

A shooting near the Taste of Chicago, an uptick in crime and low morale among officers are just a few of the reasons Superintendent Jody Weis will be called before a City Council committee next week.

Ald. Isaac Carothers, the chairman of the police and fire committee, says he has serious concerns about the performance of the federal lawman brought in to rehabilitate the Chicago Police Department.

"He needs to figure this out, and he needs to figure it out very quickly," said Ald. Carothers.

Carothers can usually be counted on as a loyal supporter of Mayor Daley and his decisions. But, these days Carothers is joining a chorus of concern about rising crime stats, including a murder rate that's up 13 percent from this time a year ago.

"We're up in every category: murders, violent crimes, shootings, so certainly there is something to be concerned about," said Carothers.

It was a little more than five months ago that Jody Weis arrived from the FBI's Philadelphia field office where he was the agent in charge. In Chicago, he's been greeted by more than 13,000 sworn officers many of whom are still unsure of what to make of the outsider picked to run their department.

Weis quickly replaced 21 of 25 commanders and has now earned the ire of an influential alderman.

"Certainly, a combination of all of it: The police department is lowest it's ever been, the morale," said Carothers. "Unfortunately, we probably have the least experienced running the police department now, in terms of highest positions, and that's unfortunate."

"Listen, no one likes a new boss," said Mayor Daley. "No one likes new procedures. You know that. Jody Weis is a well recognized police officer. He's well recognized as an administrator and handles a lot of issues."

Mayor Daley says Weis still enjoys his confidence.

Despite a high-profile shooting near the Taste of Chicago, and a rash of police-involved shootings, other aldermen say they'll give Weis a bit longer to make his mark and turn around the troubling trend in crime stats.

"We're all accountable, not just the police superintendent, but the mayor and the members of the City Council," said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward.

A spokesperson for Weis says the department does not suffer from a lack of leadership -- every promoted commander each has more than 20 years on the job. Weis' focus, the spokesperson says, remains on reducing violence.


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