Weis Defends Record, Fires Back at Critics

Top cop says his administration has been the most effective the city's had

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis talks about the city's crime statistics, new department initiatives and what he feels is a perception problem.

    With just three months left on his contract, Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis knows that the clock is ticking.  But if he's concerned about what his future holds, he's not showing it.

    "I would stack my record of what my administration has done over the past 36 months really against any superintendent the Chicago Police Department has had," Weis said Thursday during a sit-down interview with NBC Chicago.

    Mayor Richard Daley brought Weis in from the FBI about three years ago to clean up a scandal-wracked department.  Weis said he's done that and made the city safer.

    Weis on His Future, Future of Chicago Police Department

    [CHI] Weis on His Future, Future of Chicago Police Department
    Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis' contract runs through March 2011. He says it's a "two way street" between him and the next mayor for him to stay on the job, but he makes clear there's more work he wants to do.

    About 20 years ago, there were more than 90,000 victims of crime in the city.  This year will end with a little more than 20,000.  Of those crimes, 433 were homicides as of Thursday.  That's still too many, Weis concedes, but it's the lowest number the city has seen in 45 years.

    "If you look at the crime numbers, they're down at unparalleled levels -- a 1965 homicide rate.  Gas was $0.24 a gallon.  You know, if somebody can do better, more power to them, and I encourage them to do that.  It's not about me," he said. 

    Weis said the department has achieved that success despite losing 1,300 personnel positions.  Smarter policing has been key, he said, pointing to the use of data crunching, predictive policing and decreasing the amount of time needed to gather and analyze intelligence.

    His critics say that with fewer officers, crime is out of control in some neighborhoods.  They point to the high-profile crimes in the past year, including the shooting deaths of five Chicago police officers.

    But the superintendent says it's a perception problem and says the majority of crime happens in just 8.5 percent of the city's neighborhoods. 

    "Everyone would like to have 1,000 more police officers.  You won't find a police chief in the United States that's not going to say, 'Give me more police officers,' but that takes time, and unfortunately I don't have the time and luxury to simply wait for 1,000 more police officers to show up."

    That's why Weis said that next week he plans to brief the mayor on a reorganization plan to shift assets and officers to crime-ridden pockets of the city.

    "I've got to look at creative ways to put the police officers where they need to be to tamp down crime, and I've got to do that right now," he said. 

    The city will elect a new mayor in fewer than two months, and one of the major candidates on Wednesday made it clear that if elected, Weis wouldn't be retained.

    "The superintendent, again, is not from here, doesn't understand the city.  [He had] to learn it [and] get a guide book out.  You need to get somebody who knows Chicago to run the Chicago Police Department," Carol Moseley Braun said at a press event to outline her own plans to reduce crime.

    It's criticism that Weis has learned to shrug off.

    "People are entitled to their opinion, but there's really only one set of facts," he said, adding that he's focused on finishing out his term.  Whether he remains on the job is a conversation he hopes to have with the city's next mayor.

    "I would simply let my record stand on its own.  If someone feels I've done a good job, that's fine.  If they feel somebody should do a better job, then they should select that person," he said.  "I've never really fought or sucked up to anybody for what I've done."

    And ultimately, the decision could be his to make. 

    "I've got to work for somebody that I believe in.  It's got to be a two-way street," he said.