Superintendent proposes Chicago PD makeover

CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department is proposing a major makeover at a time when murder and other crimes are rising.

The reorganization comes after Supt. Jody Weis replaced 21 of his 25 district commanders earlier this year.

Budget documents presented Tuesday to the City Council show Weis wants to install two assistant superintendents who would answer directly to him. One would be in charge of administration and the other would control daily operations.

Currently, there is a first deputy superintendent in charge of operations — but no administrator at the same level. The first deputy would become the assistant superintendent of operations under the reorganization.

In another major change, the department would eliminate the Bureau of Strategic Deployment, which oversees the Targeted Response Unit, public transportation, the airports, the marine unit and the new Mobile Strike Force. Those units would be shifted to other bureaus.

During an appearance before the Sun-Times’ editorial board, Mayor Daley supported the plan, saying it will make the department more “efficient.” He lashed out at Weis’ critics, saying, “The [police] union doesn’t like change.”

Asked if Weis is earning his $310,000 salary, Daley said, “He’s worth it. . . . He is very good at terrorists. . . . He is very knowledgeable and hard-working.” Daley also addressed a growing sentiment among the rank-and-file that officers’ spirits are at a low point. “The morale is good,” Daley countered.

Meanwhile, Daley hopes to save $10 million by slowing down police hiring next year. He proposes hiring only 200 officers. Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, warns that attrition could lead to serious understaffing. He said the department could be 850 officers under the budgeted strength of about 13,500 officers by the end of 2009.

Weis’ proposed reorganization comes at a time when murder was up 14 percent over the first nine months of the year and other categories of crime were up, too.

Jimmy Jackson, the current first deputy police superintendent, is expected to become the assistant superintendent of operations, a police source said.

The first deputy was once considered an all-powerful position in the department, but Weis’ predecessor, former Supt. Phil Cline, weakened the job when he stripped then-First Deputy Supt. Dana Starks of control over the patrol division. Then in August, Weis stripped Jackson — who was Starks’ replacement — of key personnel powers.

The question to ask is Why is the Crime Rate Rising? The Chicago PD Officers that I know point the finger straight at Weis.

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