Weis under fire from aldermen

July 11, 2008 4:53:58 PM PDT
Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis met with city officials Friday before he's put in the hot seat next week. Weis will be at the center of a hearing where he'll answer questions and take criticism following this summer's spike in violent crime. ABC7 has been told that at least a dozen aldermen had meetings Friday with Superintendent Jody Weis, not only about the increase in shootings and violent crime in Chicago, but also about what some of the aldermen say is Weis' lack of communication with city officials.

"He gets a C on communication, there's no doubt about it. I think he knows he needs to improve that," said Ald. George Cardenas, 12th Ward.

Cardenas says he and his aldermanic colleagues told the new superintendent to his face he needs to do a better job updating City Council members when he makes police deployment or personnel changes in their wards.

"When you make changes it's important that we know what changes is going on because at one point, I didn't even know who my commanders were. I was finding out from the newspaper," said Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th Ward.

"He's new to Chicago and not used to communicating with politicians and political figures. And certainly he's getting the hang of it," Cardenas said.

Superintendent Weis, the former Philadelphia FBI agent, was appointed only six months ago. During that period, violent crime has increased in Chicago as it has in most of the nation's largest cities.

The top cop reportedly took a tongue-lashing from Mayor Daley on Monday after gangbangers crashed the Taste of Chicago, where one person was killed and three others injured in July 3 shootings.

Alderman Billy Ocasio says cops under Weis' command aren't as visible as they should be.

"The gang members need to know that we're out there. It's all really about visibility to me," said Ald. Ocasio, 26th Ward.

Aldermen are scheduled to publicly grill Weis at a City Council hearing on Tuesday. But the superintendent arranged to meet them first, privately, Friday at police headquarters.

"There's no pre-emptive attempt here. It's all very genuine. It's all out of concern," said Monique Bond, police spokeswoman. "All this is aimed at doing is to try to understand what some of the issues are so that the superintendant can address the issues."

Weis was hired under a three-year contract at a salary of $310,000 to head the police department and to be Chicago's chief emergency officer. But Thursday, the mayor announced that former fire commissioner Ray Orozco would call the shots at disaster scenes, so Weis should have more time to focus on police work.

"But it's not just him. I think we have to hold all the police officers accountable. I think we need to get out there. I think they need to do their job," said Ocasio.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that some aldermen were still arriving for meetings with Weis as late as 4 p.m. Friday.

The superintendent was unavailable for comment on any of this.


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