Violent crime this year in Chicago is likely down even in the face of a major hiring slowdown of rank-and-file officers, says the Chicago Tribune. Gun violence still clings mercilessly to some neighborhoods and raises nagging questions about whether the Police Department deploys enough officers in the most crime-ridden districts. Whoever succeeds Richard Daley as mayor inherits an image problem: Even though Chicago was safer in the last decade than in the 1990s or 1980s, the perception remains in the public eye that crime is virtually out of control.
Whether Police Superintendent Jody Weis has succeeded with the tone he set or the changes he implemented remains open to debate, but many feel his leadership has led to heightened tension within the ranks. Some believe the most pressing problem for the incoming administration will be a steady drop in hiring that has drained the department over the last few years. “The biggest challenge for the mayor will be to find the right leadership, (someone) who can make these things happen in a sensible and orderly way,” said Northwestern University criminologist Wesley Skogan. “It’s got to be somebody who can describe what the department can do with a sense of … we are in the 21st century [ ] and need to be) a lean, modern organization.” Weis is piecing together a reallocation plan that would move officers to neighborhoods where violence remains high and response times slower. Aldermen from wards that would lose officers oppose the decades-old idea.