Chicago's top cop said Monday that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a recent increase in violence across the city in at least three different ways.
Supt. David Brown made the connection during a news conference to discuss the weekend of shootings that left 16 people dead, including two young children, and another 50 wounded.
"There's an impact of COVID," Brown said, when asked why violence has spiked in recent weeks as compared to previous years.
"I got here right in the mid-point," he continued, referring to when he took the job as Chicago's top cop. "Mid-April is when I got here. In March is when COVID really became significant in our country. By mid-April, three Chicago cops died from COVID."
"And the shockwaves throughout this department, throughout the country, were significant as it relates to, 'What is COVID? Will I take this back to my family?'" he said.
"And so there was a dropoff in police interactions with people, number one," Brown said.
"Number two, because of COVID, our jail populations were affected because of the congregating in the jails. And so our jails decided to release more people so that they wouldn't be subject to the close quarters of a crowded jail," he continued. "So more people were released either on bond, bail, electronic monitoring. So more people were released and less people were being held in the jail."
In March, Cook County Jail began to release detainees who were being held on low-level, non-violent charges and were deemed “highly vulnerable” to contracting the coronavirus. Hundreds of detainees in the jail tested positive for the virus in what was reportedly at one point the largest cluster of cases in the country. Several inmates and correctional officers have died of COVID-19, authorities say.
The Cook County State's Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Brown's assertion.
Brown said the third element of the pandemic that led to a spike in violence was the court system grinding to a halt.
"Three, our court systems are based on having juries and because of COVID we couldn't convene a jury," Brown said. "And so the criminal justice system shut down. Except for Chicago cops. We kept working, we kept arresting people and we kept recovering guns. But everything else came to a stop - and these murdering evil bastards have taken advantage of these situations. That's why."