CPD supt. grilled about July 4th safety plan during Chicago city council meeting on violence

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Friday, July 2, 2021
CPD supt. grilled by aldermen about July 4th safety plan
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown came to City Hall ready to answer questions, but he also went on the offensive.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A special Chicago City Council hearing was held Friday to address the city's crime problem ahead of the historically violent July 4th holiday weekend.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown was in the hot seat for over five hours Friday. While he and his team presented their plan for combatting violence, Brown also berated aldermen for dragging them down to City Hall.

Brown came ready to answer questions, but he also went on the offensive, saying he and his team missed a critical briefing Friday morning on overnight shootings, and asked them to be respectful of their time.

"There is a second meeting scheduled today, that if we miss that meeting, in my opinion, impacts public safety for the 4th of July weekend, the most critical weekend of the year, the most violent weekend of the year," Brown said.

"How dare you try to use that on us?" responded Ald. Ray Lopez, 15th Ward. "You are here because there is a crisis in our neighborhoods that has not been answered to the liking of our residents. We know the violence that's in our streets, we know what happens. And to say that the entire department cannot function because the three of you are here is outrageous. It's insulting."

"I did not sign the letter today so that you could come here and be a political punching bag, but a lot of us are getting questions from very scared and concerned residents," said Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward.

Brown complained of an explosion of violent criminals being released on electronic monitoring. He was frequently asked about why - as part of his summer safety plans - he is cancelling officers days off and putting them all on 12-hour shifts when it's putting a big strain on police.

"I'd rather have more cops working those violent days than less," Brown said. "And this coming from somebody that's been shot at in his career. You'd much rather have more cops with you at work on those predictably high violent days."

19th Ward Alderman Matt O'Shea got choked up while sharing a letter from an officer addressing officer mental health.

"He writes, 'Aldermen, the situation within the police department is becoming more dire every day," O'Shea said. "Police officers feel that no one cares about them."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who accused alderman on Wednesday of using this special city council meeting as a political wedge, called the meeting "worth having" Friday. But she still questioned the timing of it, saying superintendent's time would have been better spent preparing for the weekend instead of answering questions about it.

"On whole, I thought the meeting was very productive," Lightfoot said. "I believe in transparency, lots of interesting ideas came out of this meeting."

The 4th of July weekend is typically one of the most violent weekends of the year. Just Thursday night, a shooting in Englewood left seven people wounded, including a baby girl.

In a separate shooting, a nine-year-old girl was shot in the 800-block of East 79th Street. She was taken to Comer Children's Hospital in critical condition.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Chicago Police Superintendent Brown did not making any predictions about how successful his 4th of July safety plan will be.

ABC7 Analyst Laura Washington discusses Chicago POlice Superintendent David Brown appearing at a special City Council meeting on Chicago violence.

"What I can say will happen is that the Chicago Police Department will give it's all," he said.

CPD's plan will focus on 15 violence-prone areas of the city and will provide targeted protection for commercial districts. Days off are also canceled for officers, who will work in 12-hour shifts starting Friday morning.

"So it's really data driven," said CPD Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott. "We want our activity in the same locations where the crimes are occurring."

Aldermen are at odds over the value of having Brown testify, but several allies of the mayor criticized the move.

"Some of my colleagues are out not just to embarrass the superintendent but the mayor also," said Alderman Tom Tunney.

"We're not going to let people who just think that the City Council is political theater get in the way of doing the work on behalf of our residents," Mayor Lightfoot said. "Shame on them."