Under pressure over the Chicago Police Department’s abysmally low rate of solving shootings, officials have announced plans to add 50 more sergeants next year to improve its supervision of detectives investigating violent crime, reports the Chicago Tribune. The department will bring in experts from the Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice to recommend how investigators can solve more homicides and shootings. The Tribune has been examining the challenges faced by police in solving violent crime from just one weekend in early August when at least 75 people were shot, 13 of them fatally, the most violent weekend in Chicago in years. After a shootout that weekend left four people wounded, one eyewitness did not hear from a detective for nearly four months.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said most of the 50 new sergeants will likely be overseeing homicide and shooting investigations. Some could also be assigned to supervise the work of detectives handling robberies, sexual assaults and missing person cases, he said. Johnson said LAPD and the Justice Department — with an assist from the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington, D.C. — will start their work as early as next week. The assistance from outside experts comes nearly two years after the Justice Department — as part of an investigation following the Laquan McDonald police shooting scandal — issued a scathing report on the police department. That report cited the department’s low clearance rate for homicides, noting how trust between the police and Chicago’s communities, especially those most beset by violence, was critical in solving the killings. The report mentioned how grieving families of homicide victims told DOJ investigators about times in which detectives would not interview key witnesses or suspects, declined to obtain relevant video footage and failed to update relatives on the status of investigations in the slayings of loved ones.