Weis reacts to gov's Nat'l Guard offer

July 17, 2008 3:23:52 PM PDT
Chicago police superintendent Jody Weis fired back Thursday with statistics claiming violent crime in the city is not out of control.That's how Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich described Chicago Wednesday when offered to send in state troopers.

Weis did say he is grateful for the governor's offer of assistance. But he does disagree with the governor's characterization of violent crime in the city as an epidemic.

Weis could have jumped all over Blagojevich like the Sun-Times did on its front page picture that Photoshops the governor into a john Wayne outfit. But Weis cut his law enforcement teeth in the FBI where the rule is cool. So unlike his boss, the verbally volatile mayor of Chicago who is out of the country for a meeting, Weis is firing back with facts instead of fulminations.

"Don't believe everything you read. Hopefully, today we can get the facts out," Weis said.

The city's top cop says perception's not always reality and the string of high-profile shootings in recent months is not, as Governor Blagojevich said, evidence of an epidemic in a city that's out of control but more of a seasonal spike in violence that happens in big cities around the country.

"Quite frankly, we need to get back to the mission and important job of fighting crime instead of fighting misconceptions," Weis said.

The police department reported 443 murders last year. And the homicide rate is up 13 percent this year. But the superintendent says the final figure's not likely to be much higher than the `06 number - 471 - which is hundreds of murders less than in the `70s and `80s.

But Weis is not criticizing the governor's characterizations, which prompted the Sun-Times to cast Blagojevich as a John Wayne figure offering to ride in and clean up the town.

"I think he found it humorous, but it's not a humorous issue. I think making a mockery of violence is something that's unfortunate," said Lucio Guerrero, governor's director of communications.

"I go out of my way not to get caught in political battles. That's between the governor and the mayor. We just try and do our job every day; we try and make a difference and make sure we give quality service to the citizens and communities of Chicago," Weis said.

As for the governor's offer of state police troopers and, if necessary, National Guard helicopters and equipment as a back up, Weis says he appreciates the suggestion if they can work out the logistics.

"We would never say no to help. How we use it takes time and planning," Weis said.

So the cops from the two shops will eventually sit down and figure out how the state can help because as Weis pointed out several times, the murder of one child is one murder too many. Weis is also urging the governor to work harder to pass gun legislation and to consider re-instating a gun trafficking squad that's been disbanded even though it was reportedly quite effective.


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