Police seek new ways to deter violence in the city

CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson discusses the rollout of new patrol cars for the department at the Wentworth Police District, 5101 S. Wentworth Ave., on Thursday, July 6. – Jamie Cooley

By JAMIE A. COOLEY
Herald Intern

Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent Eddie Johnson spoke out against the violence that plagued the city during the holiday weekend as the department began its rollout of new patrol vehicles at the Wentworth Police District, 5101 S. Wentworth Ave., on Thursday, July 6.

Locally, a 24-year-old woman was wounded in a shooting in Hyde Park on Tuesday, July 4.

Police say the woman was riding in the passenger seat of a car that was driving in the 1400 Block of East 53rd Street at 11:39 p.m., when several men fired shots from the sidewalk.

The woman was struck in the legs and was taken to Northwestern Hospital in stable condition.

During the span of the 4th of July holiday weekend, from Friday night until Tuesday night there were 56 shooting incidents and eight homicides across the city.

From midnight to 6 a.m., on Wednesday, there were 15 shooting incidents and six homicides.

The violence was concentrated within a six hour period on Monday, July 3, predominately on the south and west sides.

Police are investigating the incidents and determining a motive. They suspect several of the incidents were retaliatory in nature and that alcohol may have played a part in others.

“What happened on the 4th of July was unacceptable,” Johnson said.

Johnson said officers should have the resources that they need to protect and serve the community.

On Thursday the department publically announced that it would issue 550 new Ford Explorers and Interceptors across the city that will be built at the Torrence Avenue Ford plant, 12600 S. Torrence Ave.

On Thursday, the first batch of 40 patrol cars was given to police officers at the Wentworth Police District. The new patrol vehicles, according to the police department, will assist officers with fighting crime.

The old patrol cars were more than 10 years old, accumulating over 100,000 miles.

“The cars have had the same design since the 1970’s,” Johnson said.

The new patrol cars will feature, “a new style of lights to enhance police presence in neighborhoods,” said the CPD in a written statement. “Additionally, the patrol cars will also “be equipped with new mobile computers that for the first time will connect officers to smart crime fighting tools such as gunshot detection systems, real time crime mapping, police databases and electronic crash reporting.”

The Chief of Technical Services at CPD Johnathan H. Lewin stated that officers’ feedback played a role in some of the new features that the patrol cars offer.

New features include a change in light patterns and siren tones to promote a police presence, real-time crime mapping, electronic crash reporting, front and rear-facing cameras, along with more breaking visibility.

“We’ve gotten positive feedback and the technological advances [in the cars] make it one of the most advanced vehicles in the U.S.,” Lewin said.

The remainder of new CPD patrol cars will gradually be distributed over the next year until early next year, when the rollout is expected to be complete.

hpherald@hpherald.com