As Police Protest, Weis Addresses Morale
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Apr 3, 2009 7:15PM
As hundreds of Chicago Police officers marched around City Hall in protest of the lack of progress in contract negotiations with the City, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis addressed reporters on the protest and accusations of low morale within the department. Well, sort of. Weis said he supported the police union's right to protest but expressed disappointment with the timing: the protest happened on the same day members of the International Olympic Committee arrived to begin their on-site evaluation of Chicago as a potential host for the 2016 Olympics.
On the issue of morale, Weis claimed responsibility, saying, "At the end of the day, the morale of the department is on me.'' But at the same time, he implied morale was not as low as had been suggested:
"Morale is the big issue. That's what everybody wants to talk about. We are at a point where we are changing things, and change is not always received well...If I, from a firsthand look, saw that I was the cause of morale in this department, no one would have to ask me to leave. I would leave on my own. But when I'm out on the streets, I'm not seeing any indications of poor morale. When a 101 call goes out, officers scramble."
So that vote of no confidence means nothing.
As for the subject at hand - the ongoing contract dispute between the City and the Fraternal Order of Police - Weis said, "People want a contract and although I am not involved in a contract in terms of saying thumbs up or thumbs down, as the head of the agency I know I'm often the focal point of anything good or bad. It's like being a quarterback. You can't control the whole game, but you're the center of attention good or bad.'' Of course, when you spend millions of dollars on new cars rather than, say, new officers or even more money for current officers, what can you expect?
Meanwhile, Weis had some good news to crow about as homicides were down 21 percent over the first three months of the year compared to the same time frame as last year. From January 1 to March 31, 2008, the city saw 89 murders; in the same time period in 2009, the city has had 70 homicides. Said Weis, "Sometimes you have to sit back and pull yourself away from the rhetoric and look at the hard facts, and that's what I would ask people to do -- just judge us on the facts.'' [WGN 720 AM, Sun-Times, WBBM]