CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said rumors about his departure from CPD were just that, and that he not only supports the city’s mayor but to working on meeting deadlines for reform outlined in the consent decree.
Answering questions from reporters, he said there’s no “microwave solution” meaning that it’s going to take some time to fix some of the issues facing CPD. He addressed everything from the shooting of a toddler on Lake Shore Drive, the police shooting of Adam Toledo and the consent decree put in place to make improvements within the department.
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“Chicago as you all know, has historical issues. Many decades in the making, but that doesn’t prevent us from being aspirational,” Brown said. “And who wants to hire a coach that says we’re gonna lose.”
Brown denied that he needed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s permission to speak about police matters. And said that he will continue to work with the mayor.
“I am so excited about working with Mayor Lightfoot,” Brown said. “I think the city has a great mayor. I believe, Mayor Lightfoot is one of the best mayors in the country. I support her wholeheartedly. And I’m gonna work my fingers to the bone for her. I feel very comfortable speaking publicly and or privately on issue any issue related to policing.”
When reporters pointed out Brown has rarely spoken in public in recent weeks, in the wake of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city’s top cop has been “appropriately present at the right places at the right time.”
The questions about Brown’s future with CPD came just days after Lightfoot took to Twitter to shoot down the rumors. The mayor was clearly still perturbed by those rumors on Wednesday as she was asked about Brown.
“Let me just hopefully drive a nail in that coffin once and for all. 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,” she said.
Brown said the department has to do a better job addressing the consent decree and meeting deadlines that were established.
“The consent decree is measured in two parts paragraphs into compliance and deadlines and compliance. The overall consent decree has 799 paragraphs that when we are in compliance, be 100% of those 799 paragraphs, the consent decree also has 159 deadlines. So, every paragraph doesn’t have a deadline,” Brown said.
The CPD Superintendent said the department is working on its compliance but is working to meet the deadlines.
“It’s a continual thing, it’s not a stagnant thing even though it’s only reported when the report comes out,” Brown said. “We’re continually meeting deadlines continuing coming in dental plans with paragraphs so as of today we are at 48% compliance with the paragraphs.”
He added “we have been assessed over 72 out of the 159 deadlines, and we are in compliance at 52%.”
Brown said there’s a bigger target to hit that goes beyond the recommendations of the consent decree.
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“The ultimate goal is not checking the box. It’s coming into compliance with consent decree that changes our culture,” Brown said. “Are there safer ways we can do our job? Of course there are. And we are in a constant effort at looking at better ways to capture suspects. But make make no mistake about it. We’re sworn to capture offenders, particularly violent offenders in the city.”
He said it’s taking work to make changes within the department that have been systemic for decades.
“If we’re going to change our culture, it’s going to be because the community demands it. And we as a profession, not just as a department have to, number one, embrace this change that’s happening across the country and law enforcement, we have to embrace it.”
He said changes won’t happen if communities don’t have a say and if communities are wary of the police.
“One of the things that I’ve challenged this organization to do was much more community engagement than you do enforcement. And I’ve made the case that more enforcement you have than community engagement, is upside down. And it’s not listening to this community,” Brown said.
The superintendent added without trust, very little will change.
“We have to gain the community’s trust, and that will help us do our job, is the case I’m making,” Brown said. “We have to do the tough job of enforcing the law, particularly around violent crime. But we have to do it with the trust of the community.”
Brown said that will come with systematic change.
“A lot of what that means is shut up and listen. What that means is that we we are a highly opinionated profession.You ask us any day of the week about anything, we got a strong opinion about it,” Brown said. “This is a time more needed for a lot of humility.”
The CPD superintendent acknowledged that it had been some time since he held a news conference but that it was not his professional style to hold those sessions regularly. He said over the summer, he said he holds weekly news conferences.
“The 799 paragraphs are not going to be met at a press conference 158 deadlines due are not going to be met. If I’m at a press conference every day saying ‘look at me,’” Brown said.
Brown also addressed the shooting of Kayden Swann, the toddler shot in the head during a road rage incident on Lake Shore Drive.
“People who are living the criminal life, their conflicts and putting their precious babies in the car with them,” Brown said. “This is less about what police officers can do. This is about young African American male, young male of color, decided to live the life of crime, getting in conflict with others who have decided to live a life of crime, and putting your precious babies in the car with you. Until you choose to live a different life make better decisions, which I pray and hope for you, don’t put your babies in the car with you.”
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