Ill. police boss 'cut and run' after shooting

As Weis talked to reporters, a man was shot blocks away


Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO — Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis is a “coward” who had “cut and run” last week when he should have responded to shots fired 45 seconds away, a retired police officer charged Monday.

More than 20 years ago, John Northen led a group of police sergeants who filed a federal lawsuit charging they were unfairly denied promotions as the result of a flawed lieutenants exam.

Now, Northen has filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review Authority, forwarded to the inspector general’s office, accusing Weis of “failing to take appropriate police action” during the news conference Friday in crime-ridden Englewood.

After 26 hours of violence that left 41 shot and four dead, Weis summoned reporters to the 6600 block of South Marshfield Ave., site of at least two of the shootings.

As the media event drew to a close, an aide tapped Weis on the shoulder to tell him about the nearby shooting. Apparently unaware of what he was about to be told, Weis told a television reporter asking follow-up questions that he’s “gotta run.”

Sources said Weis did not go to the scene because, by the time he verified that a shooting had taken place, it was already ten minutes old, units had arrived and the scene had been secured.

Instead, the superintendent returned to police headquarters, where he picked up his gear and hit the streets for stops at three police districts on the South and West Sides.

According to witnesses, a man driving a car in the 6900 block of South Paulina was shot in the head by an attacker who fired into the car and fled on foot. Angry residents demanded to know why the gunman got away when police brass were so close to the scene.

On Monday, Northen extended that criticism to Chicago’s $310,000-a-year top cop.

“Jody Weis is a coward. I don’t want to see a coward leading the men and women of the Chicago Police Department,” he said.

“I’ve talked to people at the scene. Somebody even timed it with a mars light. He was only 45 seconds away from officers going in on a perilous assignment where one man ended up dead. He should have responded to the scene and backed up his men. This guy went the other way. He cut and run. He’s a disgrace. If he was a blue-shirt [low-level officer], he’d be an outcast.”

Police Department spokesman Roderick Drew said he would “not dignify” Northen’s “absurd” complaint with a response.

“Instead of talking about the real issues — the recent string of violence across the city — we’re distracted with this absurd complaint,” Drew said.

“The superintendent is out every week in the areas most affected by violence supporting the men and women of the department and strengthening the department’s partnership with the community. At the same time, our officers are confronted by armed offenders who are brazen enough to shoot at innocent people, even with police presence in the vicinity, as we saw twice last week.”

Ilana Rosenzweig, executive director of the Independent Police Review Authority, confirmed that a complaint was filed accusing Weis of “failure to take appropriate police action.”

Since IPRA’s jurisdiction is limited to domestic violence, excessive force and verbal abuse allegations against police officers, the complaint has been referred to Inspector General Joe Ferguson.

“That’s the protocol in place for a complaint against the superintendent that does not fall under our jurisdiction,” Rosenzweig said.

Last year, IPRA recommended a written reprimand against Weis for making a statement in a TV interview that appeared to support Barack Obama’s candidacy for president.

Weis had been interviewed as part of a Channel 7 story on security at Obama’s South Side home.

“He’s our senator, and he’s hopefully going to be our next president, so it’s an honor to serve and protect his home,” said Weis, who was wearing his dark blue police uniform.

Police Department rules prohibit officers from engaging in partisan activity while wearing the uniform or identifying themselves as officers.

As a career FBI agent and the first outsider in nearly 50 years to serve as Chicago Police superintendent, Weis was viewed with suspicion from Day One.

From a morale standpoint, it’s been downhill ever since.

Weis’ decision to wear a uniform even though he has never been a street cop offended the rank-and-file. So did his $310,000-a-year salary at a time when his officers have spent three years working under an expired contract.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Sun-Times

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