Chicago Police Department reorganization will bring officers 'back to the streets'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police interim Superintendent Charlie Beck announced a reorganization of the police department Thursday morning.

Although the former LAPD chief has only been in the position for a few months, Beck outlined an updated direction for the department, with 1,100 officers, specialized officers and detectives realigned under district and area functions.

"We think it is a robust model that is state-of-the-art for policing and will allow CPD to do even a better job than they are doing," Beck said.
The comprehensive plan will "streamline operations and deploy more than 1,100 police officers and detectives back to the streets."

The restructure, which is aligned with national best practices seen at other major U.S. police departments, will modernize the department's functions and responsibilities under two new offices, the Office of Operations and the Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform Management, police officials said. The reorganization will also streamline the flow of information and intelligence and provide for the maximum resources to be focused toward crime prevention and rapid response, according to police.

"This reorganization is about placing the maximum level of police resources closest to the communities that we serve. In addition to district accountability, the restructuring will bring more resources directly to communities under a single chain of command and elevate the reform effort that is crucial to the future of policing in Chicago," Beck said. "The Chicago Police Department has a wealth of talent in the organization, and this new structure will allow all of those critical human resources to more effectively work together in solving the most pressing challenges in the community, and to more effectively communicate with the community about our efforts to prevent and solve crime when it occurs."

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Chicago police interim Superintendent Charlie Beck announced a restructuring plan Thursday.

Although more officers have been hired, a lack of communication among bureaus has led to inadequate staffing, police said. The new Office of Operations will bring nearly 300 robbery, burglary and theft detectives into CPD's 22 police districts. Additionally, the reorganization will move more than 800 gang intelligence and narcotics officers and additional detectives from centralized facilities directly into neighborhood-facing districts and areas.

CPD organization will be divided into five geographic areas with district chiefs ahead of each. Areas four and five on the West Side, which have been closed for the past few years, will reopen. The 22 police districts under the areas will also have their own commanders. All will be responsible for crime that happens in their areas and districts.

"This will tie them much more directly to the neighborhoods of Chicago," Beck said.

As part of this modernization effort and national recommendations by the U.S. Justice Department, a centralized homicide unit will be created to focus exclusively on murder and death investigations.
The reorganization also prioritizes the efforts to transform the police department under the consent decree by combining all the functions tied to the reform effort under the command of a newly-created Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform. New Deputy Superintendent Barbara West, a veteran of the department, will oversee the office. She will be the highest-ranking African American woman in the history of the Chicago Police Department, police said. West will manage a wide range of reforms as part of the consent decree, including community policing, training, use of force, manpower and supervision, and the related issues of transparency and accountability.

Beck also promises more Latinos will be promoted as well.

In addition to unifying accountability structures in the Office of Operations, the department is creating a new Bureau of Counter-terrorism, aligning Chicago with national best practices and policing organizational models used in other major cities.

The Fraternal Order of Police said it is pleased areas four and five will reopen, but the union is not happy they were never consulted about the new plan.

"We have a voice and they should listen to us, if they listened to us three years ago, they would not have closed areas four and five," FOP President Kevin Graham said.

The restructuring will take place over the next few months. The new areas will open on April 1.

Police officials said the reorganization is meant to set up CPD's next superintendent for success.

It builds on earlier reform efforts by the administration to deploy more officers on the streets, with an estimated 150 officers set to return to the districts, officials said.
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