CPD changes overtime policy in new crime-fighting effort

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Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Tuesday he's making a move to use officers in a more efficient way by changing department's overtime system. (WLS)

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Tuesday he's making a move to use officers in a more efficient way by changing department's overtime system.

The city is seeing some of its worst violence since the late 1990's. Last weekend, nearly 60 people were shot for the second weekend in a row.

In a new strategy to fight the violence, Johnson said officers will now work overtime in the high-crime districts where they are regularly assigned. Previously, officers worked in different districts during each overtime rotation as part of a different violence reduction initiative.

Johnson said the new policy is a way to build better relationships with residents.
"They already know the communities that they serve in. They know the geographic area. They know who's who. So it should give us more productivity and promote more community engagement with the officers in the police department," Johnson said.

Camiella Williams is skeptical. She says she's lost 25 loved ones to gun violence in the last 10 years. Many of their names are on bricks here at the Kids off the Block memorial. Many of the names are well known, others less so. But it's prompted Williams to work for peace. More police, however, is not the answer, she said.

"We need resources, economic development. More policing ain't gonna solve the issue. I don't care what nobody say," Williams said.

Community Activist Andrew Holmes also said it will take more than just the police to stop the violence.

"It's going take a strong block club coalition. That being said, it's the blocks coming together, forming a block club, working together, church organizations coming together, working together," Holmes said. "I mean, you have to meet the Chicago police department halfway."

The head of the Fraternal Order of Police is skeptical for different reasons.

"We would much rather see a couple thousand police officers hired as opposed to stretching our members a little bit thinner," said Dean Angelo, Fraternal Order of Police.

Johnson also plans to expand the number of high-crime zones the department saturates with additional police from 19 to 25.

"Let's just say, West Side and South Side. So you can probably figure, places like Englewood, Harrison, Austin, Lawndale. Those particular areas will have expanded coverage," the police superintendent said.

Johnson said it is still cheaper to pay overtime than to hire more officers. He also said there are many officers volunteering for overtime hours.

The new overtime system will start July 1, just in time for the holiday weekend.

In addition to the overtime in high crime areas, police say they are continuing their existing summer crime strategy. That includes a mobile patrol unit focused on the lakefront and parks, bike and foot patrols, and a partnership with state police focusing on expressways.
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