Rookie officers will walk beats in high-crime areas to increase police visibility and forge cooperative relationships with local residents, says Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard.
The Chicago Tribune says the new policy is one component of a package of “dramatic changes” to fight crime in areas where it takes the biggest toll, said Mayor Richard Daley.
Daley is under pressure to stem a wave of violence that has pushed the number of homicides above year-earlier totals and prompted some aldermen to call for redeployment of officers.
New officers will be on foot patrol in high-crime districts for about three months before reporting to permanent posts. “I want you to get out of your squad cars and talk to people,” Hillard told the new recruits yesterday. “You will know how to engage the public and get much better sense of the people you are serving….Engage them in conversation and encourage them to come forward with information about crime.”
An official explained that the new officers will not be assigned to work along but will be “in groups of five, six, 10, whatever we need, walking together or on different sides of the street.”
The mayor said that O.W. Wilson, recruited by his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, to become superintendent in the 1960s after a police corruption scandal, believed in keeping officers away from residents. The philosophy “was to isolate the police from the community [because] the community is corrupt and they corrupt police officers,” said the current mayor.