Dear Mr. Hayner,
The position of Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department is the greatest law enforcement job in the world. Every day, I am humbled by the selfless service and dedication of the men and women of our Department. It is an honor to lead the officers who sacrifice so much for this great city.
The direction of the Department is very important to me, as it should be to every supervisor in our organization. When articles are written, and statements made, that inaccurately describes issues within the Department and then questions the ability of our officers -- and thus the dedication and service of the men and women who protect our city -- I am compelled to respond.
Many individuals have attempted to use issues within the Chicago Police Department to promote their own agendas. I find this disingenuous and a disservice to both the men and women of the Department, as well as the residents of this great city.
When I assumed the role of Superintendent, the Chicago Police Department was under intense media scrutiny, following high-profile cases of police misconduct by a small group of officers. Nothing could have been more damaging to morale than these incidents; yet, it did not take long for me to confirm my belief that the vast majority of the members of the Department are hard working, dedicated and honest police officers, who work tirelessly to serve and protect the people of Chicago.
Yet, in a recent article, a representative of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) noted that, as Superintendent, "[I] could have run this department the way it's supposed to be run," but that "[I] didn't." There are some -- including, presumably, the leadership of the FOP -- who believe that the way "the department is supposed to be run" was to continue "business as usual."
I did not share this belief. When I arrived, there was distrust between the residents of our city and the police department; this disconnect affected the majority of good officers, who were working hard everyday, as well as the communities in which they functioned. In my time as Superintendent, I have worked hard to repair that trust ... and I believe that we have all done a good job.
The FOP representative went on to note that "our members cannot wait for a new superintendent to come in here and show us the leadership that has been missing."
Leadership is not about being popular: it is about making difficult decisions and doing the right thing. That said, I have led this Department in a manner which -- on many issues -- reflects what the membership has asked for.
It is the union leadership that has failed to offer constructive criticism. I have repeatedly asked the FOP for ideas to improve the situation in our communities and for the officers in our Department. I have been promised ideas as well as lists of observations and other issues. To date, over 31 months since I took office, I have not received anything of substance: no ideas, no lists, no issues.
When I took over as Superintendent, I held town hall meetings with members of the Department, created a blog for officers to share their thoughts, and promoted an open door policy.
I heard about the need for new vehicles, for better equipment, and for a new work schedule. I am proud to report that we have placed 667 new vehicles on the street, better equipped our officers, provided more training on the law, tactics, officer safety, mental health, and other issues than any other Superintendent in the history of the Department. After 40 years, I worked to guarantee a new work schedule for our officers.
We have also worked hard to institute accountability measures and metrics: a state-of-the-art Performance Recognition System and Performance Evaluation System, which are a model to other police departments across the country.
I believe in leading by example. I have asked the union to work with me; they have chosen not to. I will continue to welcome their leadership and ideas, should they choose to offer it. In the meantime, I will continue to work on behalf of the men and women of this Department -- and the residents that we serve -- to provide the best trained, most highly equipped, and professional police Department in the country.
I would encourage individuals to read a full response to some of the issues raised at www.chicagopolice.org and click on the link entitled Message from the Superintendent -- September 10th, 2010.
Our officers work and sacrifice every day to help the residents of the City of Chicago. When officers fall short of what is expected of them, it is proper to scrutinize their actions. However, nothing would help their morale and ability to serve the public more than recognizing the excellent, often heroic work that they do on a daily basis.
Everyday, I have the unique opportunity to recognize that work. ... I would ask others to do the same and, if possible, offer a simple "thank you" to the men and women who serve our great city.