New push to repair strained relations between Chicago police and community

CHICAGO -- Twenty-six people have been shot in Chicago since Monday morning. Five of them died, including 16-year-old Elijah Simms.

At the hospital, Simms’ aunt Wanda said what many have said before: “You know what y’all did to our family? Please, please stop the senseless shooting.”

The often-scattershot gang violence problem in the city has defied solutions, and the problem is compounded by the toxic relationship between the cops and the community they have sworn to protect.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a new public safety watchdog to identify police patterns and practices that may be unconstitutional.

Emanuel also proposed a more powerful police oversight board to replace an existing agency that almost never found the police at fault for anything over the last decade. 

For example, of more than 400 police shootings since 2007, it found only two were unjustified, despite thousands of abuse complaints and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in legal settlements the city paid to victims of police misconduct.

But abuse is not the only thing that sours attitudes towards police. Critics say attitude does, as well.

Rapper Che Smith, known as Rhymefest, was held up Saturday morning and tried to report the crime at his local police division. He was met with indifference and suspicion by the officers at the desk. The police later apologized.

“I don’t believe that it’s strictly race. This issue is about the culture of the Chicago police and professionalism,” Smith said.

The proof of the damage all this is doing is in the numbers: So far this year, Chicago has had more murders than New York and Los Angeles combined.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.