CHICAGO – After the most violent weekend in Chicago in more than two years, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced Tuesday afternoon that several hundred additional officers have been deployed to neighborhoods most wracked by the shooting.
At his second news conference in as many days, Johnson said 430 officers have been added to patrols in five of the hardest-hit districts on the West and South sides. Those numbers will increase to 600 by the weekend, he said.
Flanked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, various elected officials, clergymen and other police brass, Johnson said the added manpower has been deployed to three West Side districts – Ogden, Harrison and Austin – and the Calumet and Gresham districts on the South Side.
Some beat officers will have their hours extended during regular shifts, while tactical unit officers from those districts will have their days off canceled, Johnson said. Officers from the department’s fugitive apprehension unit, which works with deputy U.S. marshals to find wanted criminals, will also have their days off canceled, Johnson said.
The announcement comes after 74 were shot, 12 fatally, between 3 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday.
According to Chicago Tribune data, it marked the worst violence of any single weekend in Chicago since at least before 2016, the year in which homicides hit records unseen for two decades. And Sunday saw more victims shot in a single day since at least September 2011, when the Tribune began tracking every shooting in Chicago. For the entire day, 47 people were shot, including a stunning 40 during a seven-hour period early Sunday.
At a news conference Monday in the Gresham District, one of four hit particularly hard by the weekend violence, Johnson acknowledged in an answer to a reporter’s question that no arrests had been made in any of the dozens of shootings over the weekend. He said detectives had promising leads in several shootings.
Johnson expressed frustration at the blame laid on Chicago police for the violence when it’s those pulling the triggers who need to be held accountable.
“It’s the same individuals that continuously commit these crimes,” he said. “Where’s the accountability for them?”
The bloody weekend comes in a year that has actually seen improvements from 2017 and 2016 in both shootings and homicides.
Through Sunday, Chicago has recorded 327 homicides, a 20 percent decline from 411 homicides a year earlier. The department reported 1,426 shooting incidents, exactly 300 fewer than a year earlier.
But Chicago remains far ahead of New York City and Los Angeles, both much bigger cities, in its violence, fueled largely by street gang activity.
Through July 29, the NYPD reported 167 homicides and 514 shooting victims, while the LAPD said it posted 143 homicides and 515 shooting victims through July 14.
The superintendent could not say definitively what caused the rise in violence this past weekend, but he denied that the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park put a drain on police resources for the rest of the city. He also scoffed at the brutally hot temperatures playing a factor.
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