The Chicago Police Department tonight stood by its claim that an allegedly illegal handgun that was confiscated during an arrest at 11:28 p.m. on Dec. 31st was the first gun to be confiscated on the streets of Chicago in 2019.
A police spokesman said the police report number for the case, JC100002—literally the second police case of the new year—was generated at 12:02 a.m. on New Year’s Day “making it the first police report generated for a gun arrest of 2019.”
However, during a quickly-called press conference one hour after the report number was generated, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson repeatedly said the gun was recovered, and the related arrest was made, after midnight on New Year’s Day.
“And two minutes after the new year comes in…there you go, our first illegal weapon,” he said.
“Tactical team 363 got the first illegal weapon off the streets of Chicago at 12:02,” Johnson said another time. “Two minutes after midnight.”
A reporter even asked Johnson, “Are you surprised at how fast you were able to pull this first gun off the streets?”
“No…these officers are good at what they do,” Johnson said, pointing to the 9,600 guns that CPD says it took off the streets in 2018. “So, no. It doesn’t surprise me.”
Second City Cop, a site dedicated to the work of Chicago police officers, was first to report the discrepancy with the “first gun” of 2019. The site and a correspondent with the site’s operators suggested that filing of the case was intentionally delayed until just after midnight so the local police district’s leadership could win praise from supervisors and attract positive media coverage.
“The traffic stop and subsequent foot pursuit occurred somewhere between 11:30 and 11:45” on New Year’s Eve night, a police spokesman said Thursday evening. That claim conflicts directly with verbal time checks given by a Chicago police dispatcher who announced the “first gun” arrestee was in custody at 11:28 p.m., and the gun was recovered by 11:31 p.m.
Time of arrest on police paperwork is supposed to be the time that an arrestee is first handcuffed and secured in CPD custody, which would be 11:28 p.m., according to the dispatcher.
But the police department tonight said that, even though the suspect, Darrell Rhyme, was “in custody” at 11:28 p.m., “this was considered an investigatory stop. Officers needed time to determine what they were dealing with. In this case they needed to conduct a preliminary investigation into the background of the suspect, whether the gun was legal/illegal to possess, secure the offender’s vehicle and interview other individuals and witnesses.”
In Johnson’s press conference, the superintendent said, Rhyme “is known to these officers as well as many officers.”
“After review of the incident, we determined that this met the standard to be the first gun arrest of 2019,” the police spokesperson said.
“In addition, the firearm was inventoried in 2019 which makes it count as a 2019 illegal firearm recovery.”
The spokesman did not explain why Johnson repeatedly claimed that the foot pursuit, arrest, and gun recovery took place after midnight.
The department’s chief spokesperson, Anthony Guglielmi, tweeted on New Year’s Day that the “first gun” was “recovered” “2 minutes into 2019.” In fact, it was recovered in 2018 and inventoried about 30 minutes later, in 2019.
All-in-all, for a department that is trying to build a reputation of trust and transparency—a department that is infamous for twisting data to find any possible way to claim crime is “down”—maybe simply waiting 30 minutes for the first real gun to be found in 2019 might have been the prudent decision.
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