Chicago police commander suspended for falsely claiming crime is down in his district — and taking credit for the ‘reduction’

Chicago police Cmdr. David Harris (left) awards his wrestling belt to two officers in October 2022. | Instagram

CHICAGO — The commander of a downtown Chicago police district was slapped with a 7-day suspension for inaccurately claiming that crime was down in his district and that he was responsible for it.

We told you about Cmdr. David Harris’ bombastic claims the day after he spewed them during an interview with WLS-AM talk show host Steve Cochran in late 2022.

“Yeah. I took over in June, and since then, overall crime is down 44%,” Harris boasted, even though crime reports were higher every month under his command than the year before.

“That’s huge,” Cochran replied.

“Wow,” echoed his cohost.

Cochran wanted to know how the incredible improvement came to be.

“Well, I’m gonna have to brag a little bit,” Harris replied. “One, my leadership.”

In fact, we reported that crime reports in Harris’ district were not down 44% since he took command. They were up 30%.

Among the leadership tools Harris said he employed were walking the hallways at the police station, “leading from the front” on the street, and awarding a giant wrestling belt to cops who do a good job.

“Robbery is down 55%. Our aggravated batteries are down 41%. Burglaries are down 42%,” Harris claimed.

In fact, all three categories were up compared to 2021.

CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs launched an investigation of Harris’ radio appearance after Dep. Chief Jill Stevens filed a complaint, claiming he “inaccurately cited crime statistics and wrongfully took credit for crime reduction in the 001st District,” according to a summary report of the investigation’s findings.

The investigation resulted in two sustained findings against Harris: that he “took credit for the significant reduction in crime since being appointed as the Commander of the 1st District” and that he “inaccurately cited crime statistics during a media interview,” the summary report said.

Internal affairs recommended a seven-day suspension. A CPD spokesperson said Tuesday that he served that time from September 9 to September 15, 2023. The Internal Affairs report documenting the findings and suspension recently became available on CPD’s transparency portal.

Harris was exonerated of an allegation that he did not have departmental permission to participate in the interview.

Major crime reports in the Central District increased another 5% last year, according to CPD’s year-end data. The district lies generally within the area bounded by the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, and 31st Street. Harris continues to be its commander.

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About Tim Hecke 326 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com