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Better management, please

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* WBEZ

Former longtime Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck, who headed CPD on an interim basis in 2019 and 2020, said Chicago could get much more out of the cops it already employs.

“Los Angeles has a million more people and probably twice as much square mileage as Chicago and operates with fewer cops and better results,” he said.

Beck said Chicago could use a bigger police department, but what it really needs is a more effective department.

* Los Angeles’ population is 3.93 million and the city covers 469 square miles and experienced 382 murders last year. Chicago’s population is 2.76 million and covers 227.7 square miles of land and experienced 695 murders last year.

From Wikipedia

With 9,974 officers and 3,000 civilian staff, it is the third-largest municipal police department in the United States, after the New York City Police Department and the Chicago Police Department.

Also Wikipedia

CPD currently has 11,710 sworn officers on duty, and over 1,925 other employees.

* More from WBEZ’s interview of Beck

Q: I want to talk specifically about guns. The main method of seizing illegal firearms in recent years in Chicago has been traffic stops, pulling over cars for minor violations and then some of those vehicles end up getting searched and a lot of guns are brought in that way. 12,000 guns last year, a lot of them through traffic steps. What do you think of that strategy?

Beck: You should not count success by how many guns are taken off the street. You should count success by how many shootings occur in a neighborhood. If your strategy is strictly how many cars can I stop and search, just increase your odds. And you may get more guns that way, but you may alienate the community, to the point that they don’t talk to you, to the point that you don’t solve the crimes that do occur with guns. And you don’t get people off the street for committing those crimes. And in doing that, you’ve got to change your goal, because your real goal is reduce shootings, not to get guns.

Q: We have a mayoral race here in Chicago. Crime is a hot issue. Politicians tend to want to look tough on crime. As a police leader, what do you make of that campaign rhetoric?

Beck: Well, I think it’s natural that crime is a topic of conversation in Chicago. Crime is too high in Chicago. The number of murders are far too high. But I also think it shouldn’t just be the rhetoric of taking handcuffs off the police. It should be the discussion of how to make police more effective. The solution is about these relationships with police and the community they serve. Shootings can be reduced in some ways, but the only permanent way I know is to, first of all increase the belief of capture after a shooting occurs. And second, especially with gang shootings, be able to clear the crime through community …

Q: Clear the crime. You’re talking about solving the crime based on information from the community.

Beck: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. The most effective gang homicide detectives I ever saw knew everybody in the neighborhood. And they would get calls on cases that weren’t even their own. Because, A, the community knew that they weren’t going to be outed by them; Two, that the community had enough contacts with them and knew the detectives’ real interest was solving the case and solving it in the right way. And that made all the difference. And so, to end my story, I don’t want people thinking that the solution for crime is that more aggressive, you know, more arrests, but not understanding how you affect the outcomes.

Please pardon all transcription errors.

I would add that Chicago needs to get much more serious about removing lead pipes in the city.

       

23 Comments
  1. - Homebody - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:02 am:

    Look at LA’s police budget compared to Chicago’s also. I’m not a cop, I don’t know how to make CPD work better. I do know that whatever they are doing now isn’t working, and just throwing more money and bodies at it without a change in approach isn’t going to solve anything.


  2. - Keyrock - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:07 am:

    Wise words by Beck. Lori’s term was greatly hampered when she replaced him with Brown.


  3. - Forever906 - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:10 am:

    They need to reinstitute beat integrity and reduce the size and number of citywide tactical teams. Some of the vacancies do need to be filled. There aren’t enough policy in uniform right now, but there are more than enough currently in the budget.


  4. - The Truth - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:12 am:

    In the 90s I never, ever would have thought Chicago would be looking to Los Angeles for police department modeling, but here we are.


  5. - vern - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:14 am:

    This is great to see. Police supporters have to get out of their defensive crouch and accept some effectiveness-related reforms. The criminal justice system isn’t working, and there have to be options for change besides “defund.”


  6. - Montrose - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:20 am:

    Beck’s words/recommendations better align with what Johnson is proposing than Vallas.


  7. - James the Intolerant - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:33 am:

    CPD would’ve hated Beck as the permannent Supe.
    Too bad we never got the chance to see how he would’ve done.
    If I remember correctly, Beck would only take the job on an interim basis.


  8. - Retired School Board Member - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:39 am:

    When will we stop thinking that the only variable in crime levels is policing? Nothing, including crime exists in a vacuum. I don’t know what California spends on mental health care, affordable housing, food insecurity, child care, birth control, pre-natal support, preschool, and environmental toxin remediation (lead poisoning is a driver of crime), but I suspect it is more than what we have over the past twenty years.
    Even if we started investing heavily in these services today, it takes time for them to make significant dents in crime levels.

    We can’t police our way out of this. And it won’t be solved overnight. Short term solutions just create short term solutions that don’t last.


  9. - Big Dipper - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:47 am:

    Conservatives always say throwing money at problems doesn’t work but yet that is their only solution for policing.


  10. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:50 am:

    Crime remains a CPD problem, but it isn’t about staffing. It’s about CPD not solving murders. The SA can’t prosecute an unsolved murder. Is this a policing problem or a detective problem? A morale problem or mismanaged resources? More beat cops standing around a crime scene isn’t going to solve that problem.

    How will Mayor Vallas magically solve this problem if he’s unable to challenge the FOP?


  11. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 9:56 am:

    ===But I also think it shouldn’t just be the rhetoric of taking handcuffs off the police===

    I like that he highlighted this rhetoric. People hear this sentence differently, some hear it as a metaphor and others hear it as a campaign promise to not hold the police accountable when they commit crimes and that’s why it works as a dog whistle.

    The CPD doesn’t exactly have a great reputation when it comes to murdering people, framing innocent people, and just in general not being horrifically racist. When I read about Fred Hampton’s murder as it continues to come up over the years I wonder how much the culture at the CPD has changed organizationally.


  12. - Been There - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 10:01 am:

    ==== Los Angeles’ population is 3.93 million and the city covers 469 square miles and experienced 382 murders last year. Chicago’s population is 2.76 million and covers 227.7 square miles of land and experienced 695 murders last year.====

    LA has about 8,380 people per sq mile. Chicago is a lot denser at 12,109 per sq mile. So using the physical size of the city isn’t really fair. And besides the high end hi rises many of the even denser areas of the city are in the poorer neighborhoods with lots of apartments crammed in one block. Much harder to police than large open space lots. I understand LA has pretty big stretches of poorer neighborhoods also but they also have much more higher end neighborhoods.


  13. - The Young Gov - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 10:06 am:

    @the Truth, LA had about a 20 years headstart on Chicago in terms of a police department consent decree. And Chicago has been dragging their feet on the first few years of ours.

    https://www.lapdonline.org/newsroom/lapddoj-consent-decree-overview-5028/


  14. - RNUG - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 10:10 am:

    == I don’t know what California spends on mental health care, affordable housing, food insecurity, child care, birth control, pre-natal support, preschool, and environmental toxin remediation ==

    Whatever CA spends, it isn’t enough. They have a HUGE homeless problem.


  15. - New Day - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 10:22 am:

    “In the 90s I never, ever would have thought Chicago would be looking to Los Angeles for police department modeling, but here we are.”

    After Rodney King, LA went through some major reforms. Same with NY. Chicago never has and the incredibly dysfunctional CPD is the result. Only question I have is who will be more successful at getting FOP to change. FOP is a cancer on the City of Chicago and the number one impediment to reducing crime. Can Vallas pull it off a la “it takes Nixon to go to China.” Or can Brandon Johnson? Frankly, I’m extremely dubious about the success of either one on the most important issue in the election.


  16. - regular democrat - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 10:45 am:

    To James the Intolerant-i would disagree with you on that statement. CPD rank and file have been waiting for a real credentialed Supt for at least 15 years and I believe would have a great deal of respect for Beck if he were the supt. The CPD desperately needs a real leader and the rank and file would follow.


  17. - Heself / Himself / Hisself - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 11:19 am:

    Chicago’s lead paint problem is arguably worse than Chicago’s lead pipes problem.


  18. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 11:54 am:

    Re: lead pipes vs. lead paint, fair point. Except Chicago itself isn’t responsible for remediating the paint. But it does own the pipes, so whether its worse or not, it’s on the city to replace those.


  19. - DuPage - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 12:53 pm:

    LAPD has helicopters that help when criminals flee police. Chicago could use a couple of them.


  20. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 1:17 pm:

    === You should not count success by how many guns are taken off the street. You should count success by how many shootings occur in a neighborhood. If your strategy is strictly how many cars can I stop and search, just increase your odds. And you may get more guns that way, but you may alienate the community,

    Add to that drugs and you have the point of the Wire. If you evaluate everyone on the enforcement actions and confiscations you get a department that can only do that and that isn’t what leads to public safety.


  21. - Google Is Your Friend - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 2:15 pm:

    - New Day - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 10:22 am:

    Rodney King did not lead to any LAPD reforms. The consent decree for LA didn’t come until after the Rampart scandal. You might remember that one as the one where one cop killed another.


  22. - North Park - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 3:17 pm:

    I lived in LA for a while, and what the LAPD leverages much more than probably any other department is their air force. The police helicopter is as universal of a sound in the evening sky as the echo of the traffic through the canyons.

    My apartment was on a bluff on the border between a “good” and “bad” neighborhood. I heard a gunshot outside my balcony one night, shotspotter relayed the message and a chopper was circling the area before I had a chance to find my cell phone to call it in.


  23. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Mar 28, 23 @ 6:34 pm:

    ===LAPD has helicopters that help when criminals flee police. Chicago could use a couple of them.===

    The Chicago weather is not conducive to helicopters. LA has 15 inches of rain a year (2/3rds of that falls in 3 months), 4.6 days a year of thunderstorms, most years no snow, the tornado last week was the first in decades. Compare that to Chicago’s weather.


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