Chicago Police Supt. David Brown took questions from the media on Thursday afternoon, exactly one year into the job and one week after the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Adam Toledo.
Brown answered a variety of questions from reporters, from concerns with the department to why he hasn't appeared as frequently before a camera amid citywide violence. He said he needs the time to put in the "hard work."
"Look, I've seen those leaders, and I'm sure you've had those leaders here in Chicago, but that's not who I am," he said. "I'd much rather be criticized for doing the work, the hard work and not enough PR, because I can always do the PR. That's easy, sit here talking to you and, you know, dressed up in, you know my tie is straight as possible to do, this is the easy part. The hard part of leadership is the real work."
He added that there needs to be a change in the culture, which can't be done at a daily press conference. Brown said the "right people in the right places" will cause reform.
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Over his past year at the department, Brown said the two ideas that continue to "keep him up at night" are the safety of the Chicago community and wellbeing of the officers.
Brown's news conference comes one year to the day after Chicago City Council confirmed his nomination to lead CPD and exactly one week after the release of body camera video showing a Chicago police officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam in the Little Village neighborhood last month, sparking protests and calls for change.
Brown addressed the shooting during a virtual meeting of the Chicago Police Board last Thursday after the video was released, offering CPD's "full cooperation" with the investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and explaining the timeline and process once he receives the oversight agency's findings.
"If after COPA's investigation, any allegations are sustained and seeks a penalty of suspension of more than one year or separation, those recommendations will be forwarded to me," Brown said. "I will then have 90 days to review COPA's recommendation. If I agree, the recommendation is sent to the city's Department of Law to prepare charges for suspension or separation, which are then filed before the Police Board."
"If I disagree with COPA's recommendation, the decision goes before a one-person panel of the Police Board for determination and possible referral to the entire Board," Brown continued, adding, "It is important that as the police department's final decision maker on COPA's recommendation for this investigation that I remain impartial and withhold any statement of opinion until presented with the evidence that COPA has gathered."
While Brown addressed the shooting in that Police Board meeting, he has not taken questions on it since the videos were released. Members of the media on Wednesday asked Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot about Brown's public presence and future with the department, prompting her to shoot down what she called "ugly, offensive and false rumors" about him as she expressed full confidence in his leadership.
"Let me just hopefully drive a nail in that coffin once and for all," Lightfoot said when asked at her news conference following a City Council meeting. "What's clear to me, is that people who don't like how we're moving forward and breaking up the status quo are trying to spread ugly, offensive and false rumors in order to create chaos. And some of you are taking the bait. And so one of the things I would just say to you all is, ask yourselves, when you see this madness circulating on social media, you don't have to be like fish and bite at every piece of chum that's cast on the water."
"David Brown is the superintendent of this police department, today, tomorrow, in the future, done. We are done. We are done," she continued.
Lightfoot later indicated that some of the rumors involved Brown potentially leaving his position as the city's top cop, again denying them as she addressed questions over his leadership and public-facing presence in the wake of the Adam Toledo shooting.
"I talk to the superintendent multiple times every single day. And he is speaking in the right and appropriate ways and he is focused first and foremost on making sure that we keep pushing forward on reform, making sure that we have the right deployments in operations to make sure the city is safe," Lightfoot said. "And he's doing his job. And so, this constant, like, 'He's going to Dallas; he's leaving.' It's just nonsense. It's destabilizing and frankly, it's insulting."
"I think that the superintendent has been appropriately present in the right places at the right time. He has been out in the community. He has been talking with a range of different stakeholders. He has been out there at roll calls and doing what I think the superintendent must do, who is still forming relationships with a range of different people," Lightfoot added.
"Standing up and holding a press conference, you know, in full regalia isn't necessarily leadership. Leadership is the things you do, the quiet things you do some time to build real, authentic relationships, to be there for people that are in need , to be present when presence is, it's called for, and that is the way that David Brown leads and I support him 1000 plus percent," she said.
Brown is also heading CPD at a time when statistics from the department show a dramatic increase in shootings and carjackings in the last two years. Police say in the first three months of 2021, 706 people were shot in Chicago, up from 493 in 2020 and 401 the year before.
More than 350 carjackings were reported in the first 61 days of this year, according to CPD, which re-launched a task force dedicated to carjackings in February amid a spike in the crime. More than 1,400 carjackings were reported across Chicago in all of 2020, officials said, more than double 2019's number and the highest number since 2001. Police said earlier this year the city is on pace to see 1,800 carjackings in 2021.
Also on the rise are shootings aimed at officers themselves. Police said at the end of March that officers were shot at 21 times in the first three months of the year, compared to nine officers shot at in the same period of time in 2020.
City Council approved Lightfoot's nomination of Brown, who previously led the Dallas Police Department, on April 22 of last year. He was one of three finalists the Chicago Police Board selected from a pool of 25 people who applied for the job.