With the violent year almost over, Chicago Police is stepping back to reflect on what was done, and what wasn’t. With the great disappointment to all of the Chicago residents, solving of violent crimes still remains on the “To Do List” of the police force in Chicago.
Following the most violent weekend in early August, when 75 people were shot, with 13 of them fatally, the city was again shaken by a murder of a 25-year-old Northwestern PhD student, Shane Colombo, while walking down on North Clark Street just a few hours after landing at O’Hare and hoping to start the whole new life in the Windy City. Not even a month passed before another senseless shooting – this time, double homicide – happened in Rogers Park in late September, leaving two innocent lives behind, 73-year-old Willard Douglass Watts and 24-year-old Eliyahu Moscowitz. All three of these murders are left unsolved up until this date, along with a multitude of others.
November 9th, multiple community organizations came together to offer a $100,000 reward for catching the shooter responsible for the deaths of Willard Douglass Watts and Eliyahu Moscowitz. Similarly, just this past Wednesday, a donor came forward and offered a $10,000 reward to catch those responsible for the murder of Shane Colombo. All suspects in these homicides still remain at large.
This Thursday, a male was shot in a busy pedway connecting the Blue and Red Lines at the Jackson station in the heart of downtown Chicago. The shooter wearing a surgical mask approached a victim and shot him at 5:05 pm, in the peak of a rush hour.
Between January and early September, the rate of solved homicides was only at 17%, the lowest rate in the city’s history. Several family members of fallen victims, as well as neighborhoods’ residents have come out and spoke to the press. Chicago residents are not happy with the way their police handle the issue. For instance, in the violent shootout on North Karlov Avenue that left four people injured, the residents and key witnesses have not heard from the detectives in months!
The rate of solved non-fatal shootings is even worse, and is recorded at 6.5% through September. It doesn’t seem this number is going to change that much by year’s end, judging by 92.8% of non-fatal shootings that have been left unsolved in 2017.
Trying to recover from the dark picture of mistrust and underperformance, CPD superintendent Eddie Johnson announced a set of new measures to be taken by the department in 2019. Among them – adding 50 sergeants to supervise detectives investigating violent crimes, and inviting experts from the Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice to consult and train Chicago officers in investigation techniques in order to solve more homicides and shootings.
According to Johnson, some of the supervising detectives could also be assigned to supervise the work of detectives handling robberies, sexual assaults and missing person cases, which are also other areas of concern for the department. Notably, authorities were not able to identify how many sergeants are already supervising the detectives.
LAPD and the Justice Department — with an assistance from the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based law enforcement think tank, are already on their way to Chicago, and will start their training work at the department as early as next week, Johnson said.
Additionally, Chicago Police Department officials announced the installation of the “nerve centers” throughout the city, centering them at the three detective headquarters – Area North, Area Central and Area South. Some of such centers already operate in several patrol districts. Focusing on gun detection technology and real-time crime data and officially known as Strategic Decision Support Centers, they help to detect crime activity faster, alerting the nearby officers for deployment.
Chief CPD spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, cited that the funding for the new program would come from the 2019 police budget. He also added that the department is currently considering to supply police officers with smartphones for an easier access to real-time crime data, and also for a faster communication while on the scene.
Outside experts stepped in after nearly two years since the Justice Department issued the devastating report on the state of the Chicago Police, citing low solving rates and grieving families hoping for answers. Despite the continuous efforts and community woes, Chicago remains one of the most violent cities in the nation, unofficially known as the “murder capital,” surpassing both New York and Los Angeles. As of November, there are 2,198 shooting incidents recorded this year, with over 515 victims killed.
“Other cities are a lot better than us,” said Brendan Deenihan, deputy chief in the detective division, in the interview in August. “And we have to take ownership for our low clearance rate, and I understand that. And we will do so.”