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Chicago Police to Disband Two Rapid Response Units

Chicago Tribune via Yellowbrix

July 28, 2011

CHICAGO – Chicago police will disband two of its rapid response units once heralded as key components of the city’s lowering crime rate, police union officials said.

Effective Aug. 18, both the Mobile Strike Force and Targeted Response Unit will cease to exist, according to an announcement on Wednesday by the Fraternal Order of Police to its members. The FOP represents the city’s rank-and-file officers.

The move was expected after Mayor Rahm Emanuel last month announced the redeployment of 150 police officers from the units for 90-day assignments to the city’s highest crime districts. The redeployed officers will now have the opportunity to make bids into other districts as soon as Friday, officials said.

Both units were considered cornerstones in former Superintendent Jody Weis’ crime-fighting strategy after he took over the department in early 2008.

Coupled with the department’s predictive analytics initiative — computer software that analyzes crime patterns to predict future shootings —the units were designed by Weis to saturate brewing trouble spots, while targeting gangs, guns and drugs.

Weis trumpted his plan as the reason behind a historic drop in homicides last year to 435, the city’s lowest total in almost half a century.

But many cops complained that the units pulled much-needed manpower from overworked and undermanned police districts and posed a safety issue.

Newly-appointed Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who replaced Weis after his contract expired in March, has shifted away from the city-wide units, saying he wanted to restore resources at the district level.

The Mobile Strike Force replaced the scandal-plagued Special Operations Section, which was disbanded under Superintendent Phil Cline in 2007 after several SOS officers stole money from alleged drug dealers and other citizens after illegally making traffic stops or conducting unlawful searches of their homes.

The police department had no immediate comment.

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