CHICAGO (CBS) – Police Supt. David Brown touted "tenuous progress" in efforts to reduce gun violence in Chicago this weekend, after recently launching two new citywide teams of officers.
Between 5 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday, at least 57 people were shot, three of them fatally. Both totals were the lowest for any weekend this month in Chicago. Last weekend, at least 70 people were shot, 11 of them fatally. Two weekends ago, at least 64 people were shot, 11 of them fatally. Over July 4th weekend, 79 people were shot in Chicago and 15 were killed.
"Obviously one violent crime is one too many. Whether it's a murder or a shooting, our standards are one is one too many, but this past weekend we did see tenuous progress," Brown said Monday morning.
The superintendent said two new citywide units were launched on Thursday:
- The Community Safety Team, a unit of about 300 officers led by Cmdr. Michael Barz, to be deployed to areas on the South and West sides that have seen an increase in violent crime;
- and the Critical Incident Response Team, a unit of 250 officers, led by Deputy Chief Michael Pigott, and trained in crowd control and protecting the rights of peaceful protesters, will focus on large marches and rallies.
Another 150 officers assigned to the Summer Mobile Patrol unit will be folded into the Community Safety Team.
Brown said the two new units helped police cover areas that have seen recent spikes in gun violence. He also said, while there were several protest rallies over the weekend, none of them turned violent.
The Community Safety Team will not only supplement efforts by individual CPD districts to reduce violent crime, but will seek to build stronger relationships in the neighborhoods through regular community projects, according to Brown.
"Let me be clear: This is not a roving strike force like what CPD has had in the past. Working with the district commander, and with the community policing officers, they are serving these neighborhoods," Brown said. "This is a first-of-its kind approach, designed for officers to get to know people and places within each of the unique neighborhoods they serve."
Members of the new unit will instead participate every week in events such as prayer circles, food drives, COVID-19 resource distributions and other community events, Brown said.
Previous specialized units such as the Targeted Response Unit and Mobile Strike Force, had been criticized for being overly aggressive and damaging public trust in police. The Mobile Strike Force was disbanded in 2007 after several officers were charged with robbing drug dealers and innocent civilians, and conducting illegal searches of homes.
In addition, Brown said the creation of the Critical Incident Response Team will mean beat cops won't have to be diverted from their day-to-day duties to monitor large-scale demonstrations.
"Every time we have to drain our resources for protests, the people on the West Side and the South Side suffer," he said.
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