Former police superintendent Jody Weis says his first order of business will be a trip to Lake Tahoe. But on his first day as a civilian, he contended the reports of bad morale on his watch were overblown.
And he says the department’s crime stats prove it.
"To me it just doesn’t add up that morale was bad throughout the department," Weis said. "Because I firmly believe in every way I’ve evaluated morale of the unit, you do not achieve the results that you do when morale is bad."
"You do not achieve the results that we did in 2010, being down 1100 officers, having crime at an all-time low, homicides at a 45 year low, if the entire police department was totally demoralized," he said. "They just wouldn’t perform."
Perhaps the lowest point in Weis’s tenure came when the rank and file police officers marched on city hall and police headquarters as a protest against his leadership. But he argues even those were exaggerated, with one billed as an 11,000-man march, when only 300 actually appeared.
"When you claim 11,000 and 300 show up, and they’re not all active duty police officers, that tells me there were a whole bunch of other folks out there who were satisfied with what we were doing."
Weis says while he was proud of his crime stats, he felt his mandate was to clean up a department which had been rocked by scandals.
"The actual try to improve on the policying numbers was like my lowest priority," he said. "Because if you recall, (previous superintendent) Phil Cline had phenomenal numbers."
"I just hope people will say the department is being held in a better light than it was three years ago. I’ve always said it’s not about me. There’s no man who’s over the mission of the Chicago police department. It’s always the mission."
"I hope history will show that we left the department better than we inherited it."
Wednesday morning, former superintendent Terry Hillard walked into Police Headquarters to assume the job on an interim basis. Hillard had only kind words for Weis, but said it was time to move forward.
"My job is to come in and make sure there is a smooth seamless transition," Hillard said. "Morale, we will address as we go along."
Asked what his message would be for the rank and file, Hillard said, "I want them to know that it’s a new day, you’ve got somebody else that’s in the chair, but the program hasn’t changed."
To the casual observer, there seemed to be a lighter air at police headquarters Wednesday, as Hillard arrived to take the reins of a department which is very much in flux. But Weis said he hoped the rank and file would remember him as a superintendent who always had their safety in mind, and gave them the tools they needed to do their jobs.
"Whether they liked my decisions or they didn’t, I hope they understand it was done for their welfare in mind."