After a six-month span that saw a surge in shootings and homicides, Johnson said the department will deploy additional officers, backed up by State Police and Cook County Sheriff forces to target major roads and freeways. But he did say officers have been told they can work on their days off and the total number of officers working will be in the thousands.
“Our message to those who wish to victimize neighborhoods with violence is that your actions will not be tolerated”, Johnson said Thursday during a press conference.
“This weekend we’ll have extra crews out here, covert cars out here and we’ll have air support”, said ISP Director Leo Schmitz, who noted numerous expressway shootings are the result of gang conflict.
The Chicago Police Department said it will dispatch detectives to every expressway shooting scene to assist state troopers in their investigations – an acknowledgment that gangs are taking their violent clashes from the city streets to the expressways. Johnson said the department has traditionally added officers for key weekends each year, and noted that homicides and shootings have declined after a steep upturn that began in December.
While 2016 has gotten off to a “very rocky start” Johnson claimed the numbers of gang-related shootings are beginning to go down, although news media reports state that gun violence in Chicago is running 50 percent higher than past year.
“Any level of violence in Chicago is unacceptable … since the beginning of the year we started out very rocky, in a really bad place, but we’ve seen the numbers progressively go down”, Johnson said. “We’re making progress but it’s not success”.