Philip J. Cline was named Chicago police superintendent yesterday. Mayor Richard Daley called the former acting superintendent “a man of proven integrity,” The Chicago Tribune reports. Cline, 53, had been the first deputy superintendent since April and was named acting chief in August when Terry Hillard retired. The 33-year-veteran has headed efforts to reduce the city’s high homicide rate. The Tribune says his tenure may be judged largely by the success of efforts to reduce murders. Last year, Chicago had 648 murders in 2002, and a rate significantly higher than either New York or Los Angeles.
Cline, the son of a Chicago firefighter and the father of a police detective, vowed to “make this the safest big city in America.” Trusted and admired through the ranks, Cline has been a hands-on leader with long experience in both detective work and management. He named Dana Starks first deputy superintendent.
Attacking “guns, gangs and drugs” will be his top priority, Cline said. “Those are the three things that drive our violence rate. We are going after them. This summer we have had 60 fewer homicides than we did last summer. I think what we are doing is working, and we are going to keep working on that.”
Cline is Chicago’s first white police chief in more than two decades; the city is mostly black and Hispanic. He said the superintendent’s ability to get the job done, rather than his race, is what is important to most Chicagoans. “When people feel safer in their neighborhoods, they don’t care what color the superintendent is,” he said. “I think I have the pulse of the entire city, not just one group.”