Former top cop Weis talks to ABC7

March 2, 2011 8:58:37 PM PST
Former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis says he believes he had a successful run as the head of the police department.

In an interview with ABC7 reporter Paul Meincke Wednesday, Weis talked about the reason he decided to leave, instead of staying on the job through the end of Mayor Daley's term in May. Watch the entire interview

"I definitely did want to know how long do you want me to stay and without having that, it was kind of nebulous. I didn't want to lock me into some period and then one day wake up and find I'm not in it," he said.

Weis says he did ask for a written agreement extending his contract, but didn't get it. That was ultimately just part of his decision, but so too was the notion that he'd be something a 'caretaker' superintendent.

"I just didn't believe I'd be able to make the necessary decisions I'd need to make to continue to push the department forward and probably I shouldn't when there's a new administration coming in 10 weeks," he said.

The outgoing superintendent says he did get a call from the incoming mayor earlier this week asking him to stay on. Rahm Emanuel had made clear early on that he would not keep Weis, who is a proponent of city-wide specialized units to respond to crime hot spots.

"The mayor elect favors a stronger beat alignment. These are just opposing philosophies. I'll just let the results speak for themselves," said Weis.

He offers high praise for the mayor as a visionary - sometimes cantankerous, but always passionate. And he considers the new/old interim superintendent Terry Hillard a friend and consummate pro, though their policing philosophies may differ.

Weis acknowledges some miscalculations and mistakes, some personnel appointments he concedes didn't work out. He says he did find that Chicago can be cliquish, and early on he chose to stop reading blogs critical of him. He disputes the contention that police department morale is in the tank.

"So my argument is to those who say morale is down, if morale is truly down, and the usual indicators are that people aren't performing, then how did the department achieve incredible success stories if everybody's demoralized?" said Weis.

He points proudly to a murder rate that's declined to its lowest point since 1965, along with continuing drops in violent crime, the addition of new cars, new rifles and a redefined work week for many in the department. Weis says he leaves happy with the job done.

"My measure is very simple. Do I believe the department is in better shape when I came in? You know we're not seeing the scandals on TV," he said. "I think it's more professional. I think our partnership with the community is stronger, and our policing numbers have improved, so I'm very satisfied."

But there has been considerable rank and file resentment of Weis as the outsider, the FBI man who hadn't earned the right to wear the uniform and who didn't have their backs.

"Did you understand the depth of the resentment among the rank and file," asked ABC7's Paul Meincke. "No I didn't," he replied. "I was an FBI agent for 23 years, I can't change that," said Weis.

For the immediate future, the departing superintendent and his wife will go on vacation and decompress. Beyond that, Weis doesn't know what the future holds or where it might take him. He says local policing and the FBI are chapters in his life now closed, and "you don't go back," he says. More likely, Weis says, will be a switch to the private sector.