Having seen shootings and murders decline this year with new technology partly in place, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) will double down on its use of predictive and analytics tools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during his 2018 Annual Budget Address.
The city is also hiring nearly 1,000 additional police officers, Emanuel said during remarks on Wednesday, Oct. 18, and will equip every patrol officer with a body camera by year’s end — deploying what’s believed to be a record number of the devices one year ahead of schedule.
The Chicago City Council approved publishing the budget and scheduled hearings on it, but not before a briefing on what CPD officials have said twice earlier this month: that monitoring criminals with data-driven technology; and police and residents with video cameras is reducing the amount of violence in the city.
Emanuel praised CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who returned to work following a kidney transplant, for challenging the department to think differently “and shift from reactive policing towards proactive, predictive policing.”
Establishing Strategic Decision Support Center rooms has decreased shootings 23 percent in six southern and western police districts, “outpacing the citywide reduction,” the mayor said at Chicago City Hall.
“In Englewood, in the 7th District, shootings are down 43 percent. Homicides are down 40 percent,” Emanuel said, adding: “We all agree the level of violence in some of our neighborhoods is totally unacceptable. That is why we are infusing our police department with the manpower, technology and training to meet this challenge head on.”
The implementation of Strategic Decision Support Centers — rooms at district police stations with technology including gunshot detection systems, expanded pod video cameras and predictive crime software; and mobile phones to field officers — has enabled CPD to make “sustained reductions in gun violence” this year, a police official said on Sunday, Oct. 1.
Gun violence declined in September for the seventh straight month and the city saw 15 percent fewer shootings and 10 percent fewer murders compared to September 2016, CPD First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro said during a press conference published on Facebook.
“The investments we’ve made to install district-based intelligence centers in some of the most active areas of the city have made us more predictive in our deployments and more proactive in our engagement. It has helped us to completely change the way we police in Chicago,” Navarro said then, announcing that six additional districts would receive support centers.
On Tuesday, Oct. 17 in Englewood, the city announced 82 new officers had graduated field training and were being deployed citywide. By year’s end, they’ll be joined by an additional 171 new officers; and by April 30, 2018, to a total of 701 citywide.
The deployment of body cameras with data storage in the cloud is about half complete; to date CPD has deployed cameras to officers in 12 districts with another 10 to go: four in October and three each in November and December.
CPD currently fields more than 4,000 body-worn cameras and has recorded more than 1 million video segments, which by law are preserved for 90 days, or for a minimum of two years if footage is needed for a case or investigation. Completing the rollout will equip 8,157 CPD officers with cameras.
“When we’re done this year, this will be the largest body-worn camera deployment. No other department in the U.S. will have more body-worn cameras,” Jonathan Lewin, CPD’s chief of technical services, said during a press conference on Facebook on Friday, Oct. 13.
An additional 868 cameras for “other patrol units” will be funded through a Bureau of Justice assistance grant, Lewin said.
Preliminary results from CPD’s research partner, the University of Illinois, mirror national findings showing “significant reductions in officer uses of force,” the chief of technical services added.
Asked by a reporter at the press conference whether that is the result of how officers react while wearing the cameras or how people they interact with behave, Lewin said: “I think it could be a combination of both.”
Theo Douglas is a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.