Chicago’s new police superintendent David Brown has a vision for the city, a plan to fight summer violence, and an eye on his officers as the coronavirus continues to infect and kill members of the force.
Supt. Brown said the city can’t afford to let COVID-19 impact his goal to make Chicago safe. He carries Texas-sized confidence with him from Dallas, where he most recently served as police chief, and he has a two-fold message for the department he now leads.
“You know, one of the first things I like to convey to officers, number one, I care about them and their safety, and I have a great concern for them in this COVID environment,” he said.
But he also brings high expectations.
“Number two, we have a challenge to meet. It’s to overcome the barrier of the COVID environment and still produce significant reductions in crime,” said Brown.
Brown said there will be a greater emphasis on community policing and less on specialized crime fighting teams. He wants to see more boots on the ground working proactively in the neighborhoods.
“I feel like I’m on the clock,” he said. “If you look back outside, superintendents, they don’t have much time here. I want to take advantage and have a sense of urgency to get community policing expanded and improved.”
He said his only agenda is reducing crime while motivating his officers to be better connected with the community under the guidelines of the consent decree.
“We want to be great for this city. So community policing can be expanded, it can be improved. You can never be satisfied,” he said.
He’s also making it a point to connect with the rank and file.
“I want to make that first and foremost, to cops rank and file to ensure they understand. They’ve got someone here in the superintendent’s role that really cares about them,” he said.
He is keenly aware of COVID-19’s effect on the department, with more 512 cases and three virus-related deaths.
Brown said the department may need to issue more citations who host larger parties or gatherings in violation of the stay at home order. He also knows he has a heavy lift in the mayor’s order to reduce the department’s $130 million overtime tab.
“You’ve got to challenge very talented people in this department to do better,” he said. “It’s like coaching Michael Jordans, thinking I got 13,000 Michael Jordans, and how does Phil Jackson do it? You know, got to tap into my Zen master and get people to believe.”
And while billboards are promoting the stay at home order with the slogan “We Are Not Playing,” Brown has an innovative way he hopes to connect with young people that involves playing virtually.
“I’m going to get me a PlayStation 2, and get me an NBA2K game and challenge some West Side, South Side kids to an NBA2K Superintendent Challenge,” he said.
This article originally appeared on ABC7 News.