A career FBI agent stepped yesterday into his new role as Chicago’s top cop, pledging to rebuild public trust in a department tainted by brutality and corruption while assuring street cops that he has their back, the Chicago Tribune reports. Mayor Richard Daley tapped J.P. “Jody” Weis, the first outside superintendent in almost five decades, as he acknowledged that his police force has suffered from diminished public confidence. Weis, 49, will face the delicate balancing act of having his officers fight violent street crime aggressively while demonstrating sensitivity to minority communities that view some officers as overly forceful and abusive. Weis vowed to reach out to neighborhoods and said he “will begin with those communities where we sense the widest gulf between the police and our residents. I will begin a dialogue that will be continuous,” he said. He does not want officers “to shy away from assertive, quality, good policing, and assertive policing oftentimes will lead to complaints.”
Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, a critic of police abuses, was wary of the choice but said she was willing to give Weis a chance. She said he has “got to make it clear that he is not going to tolerate the abuse of citizens.” A minority candidate probably would have been “more attentive” to the need for a diversified command in the department’s top ranks, Preckwinkle said. “But I will give the guy a break and see how he does.” Weis would be the first outsider to head the department in nearly five decades. He would be the highest-paid official on the city’s payroll, with a $300,000-a-year salary that far exceeds the mayor’s $216,210. The last non-Chicagoan to run the department was O.W. Wilson, a criminologist from the University of California at Berkeley.