The Chicago Police Department said Tuesday that it is beefing up its detective ranks and spreading them around the city in the hope that it can catch up to departments in other major cities that solve a far higher percentage of homicide and other violent crime cases.
Tuesday’s announcement comes about six weeks after a national police research group issued a report that concluded the department must make significant changes in the way it investigates homicides — including undoing some changes the city implemented to save the city money under then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Among the changes that Interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck is making is an expansion of the number of detective divisions from three to five across Chicago. That means the two divisions that were closed in 2012 under Emanuel will reopen — a move Mayor Lori Lightfoot had already discussed.
Police officials said will get detectives to crime scenes more quickly and give them a better chance of finding witnesses to interview. Beck said the move will foster public trust in communities, particularly those with high crime rates , and will allow residents to regularly see the same detectives.
“When you see somebody regularly and you know that you’ll see them tomorrow and the day after you tend to have much more faith in them,” Beck said. “Spreading detective resources more widely in order to facilitate building relationships is very important.”
The department has already been increasing the number of detectives from about 800 to just under 1,200 in the last couple of years in an effort to address a clearance rate that is not nearly as high as other large cities. While the clearance rate for homicides has since 2017 climbed from 36% to about 46% this year, Chicago lags behind New York and Los Angeles both of which have clearance rates well over 70%, according to a report by the Police Executive Research Forum.