When I assumed the role of Superintendent more than a year ago, the Chicago Police Department was under intense public scrutiny, following several high-profile cases of alleged police misconduct by a small group of officers. I have come to learn that the vast majority of this Department is made up of hard working, dedicated and honest police officers, who work tirelessly to serve and protect the residents of Chicago.
Morale is a very important issue to me, as it should be to every supervisor in the Department. I recognize that there are well-founded concerns, regarding a variety of issues. Many of these issues pre-dated my arrival. Nonetheless, I have been working hard to fix them. When others attempt to exploit these issues to further their own agendas and then question the morale within the Department, and thus the dedication and service of the men and women who protect our city, I am compelled to respond. In my year as Superintendent, I have worked to address many of the issues that have been voiced as priority concerns of yours, the members of the Department.
· Lawsuits ? Many of you are concerned about lawsuits and feel that the City settles too many cases. The City cannot control the number of lawsuits that are filed, but we are working to reduce them. We have met repeatedly with the City?s Law Department and the new State?s Attorney to improve training for both our personnel as well as the ASA?s. Please realize that settlements are driven by a variety of causes and are not always focused on officer conduct. Settlement decisions are often made to protect an officer from a long legal fight and the issue of out-of-pocket punitive damages. Officers have a say in whether the City settles or fights a lawsuit, but the stakes can be high for the officer individually. On April 10th, the Department is hosting the first ever civil litigation seminar to educate officers and address their concerns regarding civil litigation.
· Discipline ? There have been concerns that I would be overly aggressive on discipline because I worked for the FBI. My standard is simple: reasonableness. You don?t always have to be right, just act in a reasonable manner. I have worked to implement a more fair and consistent review process for relief of powers. I have made it clear that when the discipline investigation determines that an officer will not be recommended for separation, I want officers back out on the street doing the work they were hired to do. This process has resulted in fewer officers being stripped in 2008 than in previous years and more officers being reinstated in 2008 than in previous years.
· Alternate Work Schedule - My commitment to implement an alternate work schedule was in response to hundreds of complaints that I heard from officers during a series of Town Hall meetings and other forums with you, the rank and file. As with any negotiation, there were obstacles put forth that were overcome by the Department. We brought the unions to the table and negotiated the best pilot that we could for our officers and department. A series of different schedules are now in place and being tested, with input coming from officers and management. I am optimistic that we will have a schedule that works for our officers and for the Department at the end of the pilot.
· Vehicles ? Recently, the Department purchased 180 Tahoes. Starting last Tuesday, delivery began. An average of three vehicles per day are now being supplied to the busiest districts. We have also applied for $6 million in federal stimulus money for the purchase of 120 more vehicles.
· Portable Data Terminals (PDTs) ? New PDTs are now installed in sixteen districts and various specialized units. An additional two hundred and seventy four (274) are now in stock and ready for installation, with an order for two hundred and eighty nine (289) placed this week. A total of five hundred and sixty three (563) brand new PDTs will be installed throughout the Department starting in the coming weeks, for completion before the end of 2009
· Officer Safety- The lack of equal firepower by officers has been an issue that I have worked on since my arrival. I am committed to ensuring that our officers are trained and have the ability to deploy with better weapons. The carbine program was started and we continue to deploy carbines. As of today, there are almost 400 in stock and we are installing more vehicle gun locks everyday. In addition, I have also allowed officers that qualify to use carbines the option to purchase their own weapon, to further facilitate their availability to street officers when needed.
· Overtime Initiatives - I recognize that officers are facing the same economic issues that the rest of the population is and I have fought to expand overtime opportunities. I have also directed that many of the existing programs follow the same procedures to make the access to overtime initiatives fair and open to all qualified personnel. We have applied for over $9 million in federal stimulus money to pay for overtime initiatives. This will not only allow us to do more with the officers we have, but will result in more officers on the street, as back-up and to fight crime.
I have met with many of you over the course of the last year. Given the size of the Department, I am at a disadvantage in reaching you all personally. I have utilized video streaming, town hall meetings, roll calls, marches, community meetings and more frequent PAX 501 messages to reach out to you to improve overall communications and to provide the facts.
I am committed to providing you ? the men and women of this Department ? with the best possible training, equipment, and work environment possible. I know that for many of you, this is a career that you chose, because you believe in the fight to do good everyday.
Your concerns have reached me and I am committed to addressing them to the best of my abilities and improving the system wherever possible to enable you to work effectively.
More importantly, I recognize the intense dedication, integrity and camaraderie amongst the members of this department. I will strive everyday to support your efforts by serving you with honesty, integrity, and hard work.
We are BITCHES IN BLUE. Not like that is a bad thing. We are strong women, with a fierce love for "the job", a fierce love for family, a fierce loyalty for our friends, and a fierce respect and loyalty for our brother's and sister's in blue. We are patriot's, we are warrior's. We are strong women, that fight the good fight everyday. We believe in truth, justice and the American way. We love our country, we love our job, and most importantly we stand for integrity, truth and reality. We are not women that have sat behind a desk our whole career's, we have fought the noble fight on the streets along side our partner's throughout our career's. We fight for life, liberty and the American way. Right is RIGHT.
Yes we are hot, yes we are beautiful, yes we are the police and most importantly YES we are American's.