Crime, shootings, UCPD gets new police chief and more in 2017

The Chicago Police Department breaks up a fight at the corner of 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue. – Spencer Bibbs

Staff Writer

The number of shootings in the city at large is down in comparison to 2016. Shootings in Hyde Park are relatively low in contrast to the entire city. However, robberies continue to be an issue in the neighborhood.

This year shooting incidents citywide reached over 2,000 there were 2,759 shooting incidents between Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 26, 2017. This year there were 646 homicides between Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 26, 2017.

In the 2nd District – Wentworth District, which includes the communities of Hyde Park, Kenwood, Washington Park, Oakland, Fuller Park and Grand Boulevard there were 113 shootings from Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 25, 2017, there were 135 shootings in 2016 during the same period.

There were 27 homicides in the district from Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 25, 2017 – up one from the same period last year.

Shootings in Hyde Park

January – 25-year-old Robert Jones was shot on Tuesday evening, Jan. 17, on the 5100 Block of South Blackstone Avenue at 9 p.m., and later died from his injuries.

Chicago police said Jones, was standing on the sidewalk with a man and two women at when a second man produced a handgun and fired shots striking the victim.

Jones, sustained gunshot wounds to the head and shoulders, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition. He was pronounced on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

February – A man was shot Monday night, Feb. 13, on the 4700 Block of South Drexel Avenue.

Chicago Police said the victim was standing on the sidewalk around 9 p.m. when he heard shots and felt pain.

The victim sustained a gunshot wound to the left foot.

A friend took him to St. Bernard Hospital, 326 W. 64th St., in stable condition.

A 33-year-old woman was shot late Sunday night, Feb. 19, on the 5000 block of S. Drexel Blvd., at 11:52 p.m.

The victim was traveling northbound in a black SUV when she heard shots and felt pain. The driver of the vehicle transported the victim to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, 2525 S. Michigan Ave with a gunshot wound to the back. The victim was later transferred to Stroger Hospital, 1969 W. Ogden Ave., in critical condition.

March – A 28-year-old man was shot Wednesday night, March 23, on the 1100 block of East 48th Street. The man was in a vehicle at approximately 7:23 p.m. when he was shot. The man sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen and the leg. He transported himself in stable condition to Comer Children’s Hospital, 5721 S. Maryland Ave., he was later transferred to Stroger Hospital, 1969 W. Ogden Ave., in stable condition.

April – An 18-year-old man was shot and wounded Sunday night, April 9, in Hyde Park, according to Chicago Police.

According to police, at 8:05 p.m., the man, was riding in the back seat of a car driving northbound on 5500 Block of South Hyde Park Blvd. when he was shot.

Police said a bullet grazed the man’s head and that he also sustained a gunshot wound to the left shoulder.

The man was transported to Stroger Hospital, 1969 W. Ogden Ave., in stable condition.

May – A 21-year-old man was shot and wounded on Monday, May 29.

The man was walking on the sidewalk in the 5000 block of South Drexel Boulevard, at 9:24 p.m. when he heard shots and felt pain according to Chicago Police.

The man was self-transported to the University of Chicago (U. of C.) Medical Center, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the abdomen. The man was later transferred to Mt. Sinai, 1500 S. Fairfield Ave.

A 34-year-old man was shot and wounded on Wednesday evening, May 31.

The suspect approached the victim as he was exiting a vehicle on the 5300 Block of South Cornell Avenue at 5:16 p.m., according to the Chicago Police.

The suspect approached the man on foot and fired shots before leaving the area.

The victim sustained gunshot wounds to the side and arm and was transported to Northwestern Hospital, 251 E. Huron St., in stable condition.

June – A 35-year-old man was shot and wounded on Friday, June 2, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Police said the man was traveling in a vehicle on Lake Shore Drive when an unknown offender shot him.

It happened in the 5700 Block of South Lake Shore Drive at 11:45 a.m.

The victim walked into Mercy Hospital, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., according to police with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

He was transferred to Stroger Hospital, 1969 W. Ogden Ave., in stable condition.

July – A 24-year-old woman was wounded in a shooting that took place Tuesday, July 4 according to Chicago Police.

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.

October – A 19-year-old man that was wounded in a shooting on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 25, has died, according to Chicago Police.

The shooting happened in the 5200 Block of South Cottage Grove Avenue at 2:45 p.m.

The man sustained a gunshot wound to the head and was transported in serious condition to Northwestern Hospital.

November – A 25-year-old man was wounded in a shooting that took place on Saturday night, Nov. 25.

Chicago Police said the victim was standing in the 5400 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue just before 6:30 p.m. when a vehicle pulled up and an offender began firing at the victim from the inside of the car.

The victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the back and abdomen and was transported to Stroger Hospital in serious condition.

Chicago Police Department and the Department of Justice

Following a year-long investigation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a detailed report in January regarding the Chicago Police Department and its practices and culture.

The investigation was launched following the release of a video showing a white police officer, Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting a black teenager Laquan McDonald in October of 2014. Van Dyke has since been charged with first-degree murder.

The 100-plus page report by the DOJ found that the CPD officers, “engage in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, that is unreasonable. CPD officers’ force practices unnecessarily endanger themselves and others and result in unnecessary and avoidable shootings and other uses of force.”

The DOJ also claims that the CPD has not provided its officers with adequate training to understand how and when they may use force or how to de-escalate encounters to reduce the need to use force, nor has the CPD held officers accountable when they use force or commit misconduct.

Other findings from the report state that:

• Officers engage in tactically unsound and unnecessary foot pursuits, and that these foot pursuits too often end with officers unreasonably shooting someone—including unarmed individuals.
• Officers shoot at vehicles without justification and in contradiction to CPD policy.
• Officers exhibit poor discipline when discharging their weapons and engage in tactics that endanger themselves and public safety.

The DOJ found that the most extreme uses of deadly force were incidents in which CPD officers shot at suspects who presented no immediate threat.

Jamie Kalven, a journalist, and founder of the Hyde Park-based Invisible Institute sees the DOJ report as a significant step in reform and rebuilding at the CPD. He said future cases of police abuse could use the report as precedence.

“The report is going to have all sorts of legal ramifications and consequences,” Kalven said in a previous article in the Herald. “Any Civil Rights lawyer now bringing a civil rights suit on behalf of someone who alleges police abuse can draw on this report.”

In a five-year span before the DOJ investigation, the city received over 30,000 complaints of police misconduct but less than 2 percent were sustained, and that resulted in no action or discipline in 98 percent of the complaints.

Since the launch of the investigation last year, the city has taken steps to address the mistrust amongst citizens and the CPD. In October, the City Council passed an ordinance getting rid of the Independent Police Review Authority and replacing it with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. COPA will investigate police misconduct such as police shootings, verbal abuse, and taser abuse.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said in a previous article in the Herald that the report acknowledges what many have said for years about the CPD. She said it is up to elected officials to ensure that the reforms and recommendations made by the DOJ are applied.

“These are not new claims against the Chicago Police Department,” Hairston said. “[The] Chicago Police Department has a rich history of doing this. Everybody is responsible for making sure that these things get implemented.”

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1) said in a previous article in the Herald that more had to be done to guarantee that the city would implement the consent decree.

“The actions of rogue officers and the inadequate department accountability systems under which they operate, require an immediate and comprehensive response,” Rush said. “We must demand the same response from the Justice Department as the City of Baltimore received. A consent decree must be implemented.”

In June, Civil rights attorneys and community organizations filed a class action suit seeking court-ordered enforcement to push for reform in the Chicago Police Department.

In the suit, the parties assert that “absent federal court supervision, nothing will improve. CPD policy changes, implemented over the years and supposedly as recently as May 2017, are superficial changes in name only.”

The suit is calling for a federal judge to intervene and order reform in the department to stop “abusive policies and practices undergirding the alleged constitutional and state law violations alleged herein.”

The announcement of the suit comes on the heels of reporting in June that Mayor Rahm Emanuel had backed away from his commitment to federal oversight to oversee reforms in the police department.

Instead, Emanuel according to reports has recommended to the Department of Justice an alternative, to install, an independent monitor to oversee reform in the police department. The proposal, however, would not require CPD to enter into a consent decree.

In a previous interview with the Herald, Craig Futterman, University of Chicago law professor and civil rights advocate, referred to Emanuel’s proposal as a “backroom deal with no teeth.”

Futterman argues that it is an attempt to “prevent any federal court enforcement or oversight of the CPD. Instead of honoring his commitment to enter a binding consent decree with the US Department of Justice. The mayor proposed a backroom deal with Attorney General Jeff Sessions a deal that keeps a federal judge out of it, keeps the community out of it, and that keeps it from being any credible enforcement mechanism.”

Futterman is a lead attorney for the lawsuit.

“We have years of empirical evidence to [show that] city leaders are incapable of ending these civil rights violations on their own,” Futterman said. “Problems are far too entrenched and far too deep.”

In January, the city and the DOJ agreed to enter negotiations about a court-ordered consent decree that will help guide reform within the police department. A federal judge has to sign off on the agreement before it goes into effect.

There was unease from community organizations and civil rights advocates surrounding the consent decree because it was days before the Obama Administration transitioned out of the office.

Officials in the Trump administration, such as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions have publically expressed skepticism on the effectiveness of consent decrees.

“These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness, and we need to be careful before we do that,” Sessions said during his Senate confirmation hearing in February.

The suit states that federal court intervention is key to “end the historical and on-going pattern and practice of excessive force by police officers in Chicago.”

The city, the suit said, “has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing.”

Named plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Black Lives Matter Chicago, Blocks Together, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Justice for Families, Network 49, Women’s All Points Bulletin and 411 Movement for Pierre Loury, as well as six people who according to the suit have been subject to use of force by CPD officers.

The city of Chicago and 15 individual police officers were named as defendants in the suit.

In an email to the Herald, Futterman said the City has moved to dismiss the lawsuit for two reasons:

“That the CPD has already fixed any problems it had (while it continues to deny having engaged in any pattern and practice of civil rights violations, code of silence, excessive force, etc.); so, there is no basis for any court oversight of the CPD. The people who have been most impacted by police violence in Chicago, and the community-based and civil rights organizations which have long advocated with them to address CPD brutality and racism, should not have the power to sue the City/CPD to force it to change; they should only be allowed to sue the City for money to compensate them for the harm that they have experienced.”
Futterman said he disagrees with the City’s notion and said the legal team has filed briefs that show “the legal authority for people to bring this civil rights lawsuit and the dire need for vigorous and sustained external court oversight of the CPD to address its ongoing pattern of excessive and discriminatory force.” 

He said he expects a federal court to rule in late winter.

Student group meets with the head of CPD – In January, Eva Lewis, 18, Maxine Aguilar, 17; Maxine Wint, 17; and Yahaira Tarr, 17—organizers from Youth for Black Lives— met with CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson at Experimental Station.

Three of the four are graduates of Kenwood Academy High School’s Academic Center.

Lewis, a former senior at Walter Payton College Prep, Aguilar and Tarr, who are both students at Jones College Prep, and Wint, who attends Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., led a massive peaceful protest in downtown Chicago last summer in response to the killings of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn., and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., by police officers. 500 people participated in the sit-in protest in Millennium Park, followed by a march that shut down Michigan Avenue and State Street with over 1,000 peaceful protestors.

The group planned to organize another protest in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood last November after the shooting death of Joshua Beal a 25-year-old black man who was killed by an off-duty police officer in that area. Group members called off the protest after Johnson agreed to their demands, one of which was to attend their monthly public meetings.

The teens asked a variety of questions ranging from how CPD officers are trained to what reforms the department would launch to ensure that CPD officers are held accountable if they engage in misconduct.

An interesting question from the teens stemmed from the power of the superintendent’s office and the Chicago Police Board, an independent civilian body appointed by the mayor to oversee, disciplinary cases involving allegations of police misconduct, which according to Johnson has the final say regarding cases involving police misconduct.

“People are civilians, people are citizens of the United States, people are citizens of Illinois, people are citizens of Chicago, people have the authority to protest and to challenge authority over them,” Lewis said. “If you are also a police officer and also a civilian don’t you have the power to question authority…to challenge a system?”

Johnson said people have the right to challenge authority in the right context.

“You do have a right to challenge things, but I think where we have friction a lot of times is when you have an incident where a police officer is giving a lawful order to someone, and they fail to comply with it,” Johnson said. “Usually, that results in physical action, and that’s what we don’t want.”

The teens also asked questions related to the detailed report by the Department of Justice (DOJ) released last week, which revealed widespread misconduct and excessive force in the CPD.

Johnson said last year the department began to launch reforms and programs to address the findings from the DOJ report.

“I have already acknowledged that the Chicago Police Department is not a perfect agency,” Johnson said. “Accountability starts with me. We are making a lot of improvements on how we look at complaints and also how we hold officers accountable.”

Journalist Jamie Kalven sues CPD for withholding records in Laquan McDonald Case – in March, Kalven filed a lawsuit against the CPD. Kalven sued the department for withholding investigation records into the cover-up of Officer Jason Van Dyke’s killing of Laquan McDonald.

The lawsuit is as a result of CPD’s denial of a record request in November 2016 Kalven submitted under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Kalven is seeking records from a probe into the department’s handling of the 2014 police shooting.

“It is controversial cases such as the Laquan McDonald cover-up that are most likely to be referred to the Inspector General,” Kalven said in a written statement. “The CPD’s reading of the law would lead to an unacceptable outcome. Citizens would be denied access to information about precisely those cases in which there is the most intense public interest.”

Van Dyke shot McDonald a black teenager 16 times in October 2014. Kalven was one of the first journalists to investigate McDonald’s death. His reporting along with the public release of a video of McDonald’s murder sparked nationwide protests and debate about police accountability and public safety.

The aftermath of McDonald’s death also led to a probe into the CPD’s past and present by the DOJ.

In April, Kalven was awarded for his “Code of Silence” series. The Sidney Hillman Foundation awarded Kalven with the 2017 Hillman Prize for Web Journalism.

His winning four-part series unfolded over more than three years comprised of 150-house of interviews surrounding whistleblower cop, Shannon Spalding, who describes her and her partner’s efforts to expose a criminal enterprise that was operating within the CPD.

Kalven’s Hyde Park-based Invisible Institute, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave., previously won the Hillman Foundation’s monthly Sidney Award in December 2015 for its Citizens Police Date Project, which is the most extensive interactive database of police misconduct complaints.

Last month, a Cook County judge threw out a subpoena that would have compelled Kalven to testify about his reporting on the McDonald shooting. Numerous news organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Kalven.

Chicago Police Department – 2nd District – Wentworth

Police sought out new ways to deter violence in the city – In July, the Chicago Police Department rolled out new patrol vehicles at the Wentworth Police District, 5101 S. Wentworth Ave.,

During the public announcement, the department said 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.

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

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

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.”

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.

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.

University of Chicago Police Department

The University of Chicago Police Department named Kenton W. Rainey as Police Chief in June replacing Fountain Walker, the former police chief who served in the role since August 2015. Walker is now the assistant vice president at New York University.

“I follow articles online the reputation that the city is getting…with all the violence it tugs at me,” Rainey said in a previous article in the Herald. “I answered the call. I wanted to come back and contribute whatever I can to address some of the things going on in the city.”

Before joining UCPD, he served as the chief of police for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Department until his retirement at the end of last year.

He mentioned at the meeting that he became chief of BART following the death of Oscar Grant. A BART Police officer fatally shot Grant at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland on New Years Day 2009.

Before that, he served as police chief in police departments in Fairfield, Calif., and San Antonio, Texas. He also has served in leadership for law enforcement agencies in California and Ohio.

Rainey is originally from Chicago. He grew up near Dunbar High School, 3000 S. King Drive, and attended De La Salle Institute, 3434 S. Michigan Ave. before his family moved to California in the late 1970s.

He graduated from California State, Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and received a master’s degree in organizational management.

In September, Rainey met with members of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, which was one of many meetings that Rainey attended as an introduction to the neighborhood.

Rainey was asked questions about his adjustment to the job, challenges he may face and also wondered how the department can address crime in the neighborhood.

Rainey said he wants to bring the department closer to the community.

He said UCPD would host meetings similar to the Chicago Police Department’s Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) or beat meetings.

UCPD participates in CAPS meetings alongside the CPD that are held once a month in police districts across the city.

“We will continue to participate in the CAPS meetings. Our primary mission is to the campus, and we want to reach out to our campus stakeholders who work and utilize the medical center,” Rainey said. “We need to make sure that they’re on board with where we’re trying to go and what we’re trying to do.”

He added that UCPD would continue to attend other meetings within the community as well.

Rainey now oversees the department’s 100 members of the full-service, professionally accredited police department and serve as representative on campus and in surrounding communities. He directs policing initiatives, develops crime prevention strategies and implements community policing programs.

In July, The department was re-accredited with Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation recognition by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

“Receiving the CALEA accreditation again shows that the members of the UCPD perform their duties to the highest standards set in law enforcement today,” said Eric M. Heath, associate vice president for Safety & Security at the University of Chicago, in a previous article in the Herald. “I am proud of the hard work required of our officers and staff to achieve this recognition. We will continue to work hard and provide this level of service, professionalism, and commitment to our community.”

UCPD is the only private university police department in the Midwest that is CALEA accredited. UCPD was granted accreditation for the first time in 2014.

CALEA assessors visited the UCPD in April to conduct an on-site assessment of the police department. The evaluators surveyed all aspects of the department’s policies and procedures, management operations, and support services.

A public information forum was held in April, which allowed the public to speak with CALEA assessors directly.

Turnout for the public hearing was small, only three residents were present at the meeting. Those that were present spoke of UCPD’s relationship to the community, which some residents see as problematic for people of color in the area.

“I can tell you that it’s kind of common knowledge that students of color are followed by UCPD, said Sarah Jones Hyde Park resident in a previous article in the Herald, who also attended graduate school at U. of C. “Students of color understand that they will have to interact with UCPD much more than white students do, that’s an issue.”

Hyde Park resident Kenneth Newman, in a previous article in the Herald, spoke of past incidents where UCPD officers stopped black elementary school students who are residents and attend school in the area sometimes for no reason at all. He believes UCPD has work to do to improve relationships with people of color who live in the area.

“Frankly until the [UCPD] training is better and their relationship with the black community going to the west, north, and the south [is better], I call into question their ability to hold up to a high standard,” Newman said. “I’m looking to seeing if this police department can get to a higher standard protect the community, stop harassing minority people.”

The on-site assessment is a part of the voluntary process that is required to be accredited with CALEA that recognizes excellence in law enforcement.

Accreditation lasts four years. UCPD will submit annual reports and documentation to show compliance with standards.

Community joins UCPD for police training

In November, UCPD officers participated in Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) training that was completed alongside members of the community.

The stated purpose of the training is to promote community and police partnerships with the aim of reducing crime.

“It’s designed for the police officers and our community stakeholders because we all share in [the] public safety mission,” said University Police Chief Kenton Rainey in a previous article in the Herald. “If we’re able to connect with the people who live, work, and go to school in this greater Hyde Park area they become our force multiplier then it’s more of us than people who are up to no good.”

Five training sessions were held at locations on the university’s campus and in the neighborhood.

The training was facilitated by, Retired Deputy Chief, Janieth Glenn-Davis, California State University and Acting Lieutenant, Tanzanika Carter, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District East Bay.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines community policing as “philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues (such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime).”

The pair explained that COPPS is a philosophy, framework, partnership or department-wide strategy that promotes community, government, police partnerships and proactive problem solving to reduce crime and disorder in the bounds serviced by police officers.

The twelve principles of COPPS were introduced during the training. For example, one of the tenets of COPPS requires “shared ownership, decision making, and accountability, as well as sustained commitment from the police and the community” another principle “requires ongoing commitment to develop proactive, long-term programs/strategies to address the underlying conditions that cause community problems.”

After laying the foundation for COPPS officers and community members together created action plans for real-life scenarios using information from COPPS as well as problem-solving strategies within the COPPS framework.

Participants used a problem-solving approach to address the scenarios relative to the community in training. Groups used the problem-solving process referred to as SARA (scan, analyze, respond, access) and then presented their plans to the team as a whole.

Rainey expressed previously in the Herald his desire to improve the relationship between the community and the police. Implementing the side-by-side training for officers and the community is one of the ways he is addressing that desire.

“We want and need the community to work with us, and we have to be transparent,” Rainey said. “We need their assistance if we’re going to be successful.”

The UCPD consists of 100 officers whose patrol area boundaries are on and around the U. of C. campus as well as extended patrols as far north as 37th Street, 65th Street – South, Lake Shore Drive – East, and Cottage Grove Avenue -West.