Chicago Police Department leaders this week prepared to order all officers who support detectives and the citywide carjacking teams to sit in patrol cars on street corners in violence-prone neighborhoods as CPD brass desperately tries to keep the city’s homicide total below 800 for the year, according to department communications provided to CWBChicago.
Under the plan, which one commander hoped would be “changed, modified, or rescinded,” all officers assigned to the detective division, including gang investigators, vehicular hijacking investigators, and video evidence specialists, will be required to wear their uniforms and “sit in a box” between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Sitting in a “box” is CPD slang for being assigned to sit in a car at a fixed position in a high-crime area. It’s also known as “scarecrow policing.”
“Our chain of command did not come up with this,” one supervisor wrote. “This is coming from the superintendent.” A second source said the order came from CPD’s second-in-command, First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter.
The plan would bring violent crime investigations to a near-halt, the second source said, because the cops who do much of the leg work to support detectives that investigate murders, shootings, carjackings, and other crimes will be sitting in cars on the streets.
“They’re resorting to scarecrow policing instead of having [the officers] do the jobs they are trained to do assisting homicide and shooting detectives,” the second source said.
Among the cops who will be tossed onto the streets under the plan are officers assigned to CPD’s “Area Technology Centers.” Just two years ago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that all of the city’s detective divisions had been outfitted with ATCs.
“When crimes aren’t solved, the relationship between officers and the community frays, collaboration weakens, and trust wanes,” Lightfoot said in an August 2019 press release. “Investing in our detectives is more than just about better protecting evidence, expediting investigations and increasing clearance rates, it’s about providing families who have lost a loved one to the scourge of gun violence with the answers they deserve.”
The mayor’s priorities have apparently changed.