Weis approved as Chicago's top cop

January 9, 2008 3:59:03 PM PST
The Chicago City Council approved the appointment of a former FBI agent as the new superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Jody Weis talked to reporters for the first time Wednesday about his plans as Chicago's top officer.

Weis takes over as the Chicago Police Department faces sharp criticism for its handling of police brutality allegations and rogue officers.

The word accountability was mentioned several times Wednesday. That and better police training are priorities for Jody Weis. With a salary of $310,000 a year, Weis is the first outsider hired as Chicago's police superintendent in four decades.

"He doesn't have all the answers. If he did you would think he was a miracle person," said Mayor Daley.

But Mayor Daley hopes his outside hire as Chicago's top cop, at the very least, will help restore the public trust in a police department that has been plagued with scandal.

Weis is a career FBI man. The 50-year-old says his first priority is getting to know his staff.

"I'm a new guy in town. I recognize that. And people are apprehensive. And the best way to people get to know me is through a little bit more of an informal process," Weis said.

Every alderman except one voted to confirm Weis' appointment. Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell was concerned about Weis' answers at his confirmation hearing.

"He didn't offer any kind of serious strategy," Dowell said.

Weis says coming out with specifics at this point would be a mistake.

"I have a lot of new ideas. My experience has been whenever the boss comes out and lays out a plan, that tends to stifle a lot of creativity because everybody says that's where he wants to go," said Weis.

But Weis did talk about specifics when asked how he plans to deal with investigating police misconduct.

"I can promise you that the internal affairs portion is something I'm pretty familiar with. And I'm going to personally oversee that portion of it to make sure that our internal investigations do move forward swiftly and done in a fair and consistent manner," said Weis.

Although the new police superintendent says he is not in favor of releasing names of police officers who have several complaints filed against them, Weis is convinced police brutality is not a widespread problem in Chicago. Weis believes the best way to keep his officers in check is to start with the small violations such as missed court dates.

"If we start enforcing the minor infractions, we have a swift internal affairs process, and more importantly start from day one at the academy and have a continuing education program," said Weis.

Mayor Daley promised to give Jody Weis the independence he needs in doing his job, including choosing his staff. Weis has not named his No. 2 person yet. Several alderman are encouraging him to name an African-American as the first deputy superintendent. Weis says he will hire the best person for the job.