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Police Chief Blues

Checking in on the vapid coverage of new police chief Jody Weis.

*

So now we know the details of new police chief Jody Weis's workout routine, his favorite movie, and what kind of motorcycle he owns. It took three Sun-Times reporters to find out. (The Tribune did a little better, but just a little.)

Can we get to the real questions now?

Just for starters, check out Tracy Jake Siska's "11 Questions for Jody Weis" over at his Chicago Justice blog.

*

"Mr. Weis was promoted to Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office in June 2000 where he was responsible for the While Collar Crime, Organized Crime, Violent Crime, and Administrative Programs during his assignment in Illinois," the FBI said once in a press release.

It might be interesting to know more about his time in the FBI office here other than the fact unearthed by the Sun-Times that he wasn't a target of ribbing from fellow officers - especially his role in the Robert Wright case. (Also referred to in this Chicago magazine story I wrote about David Schippers.)

"In March 2003 Mr. Weis was promoted to the position of Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility. When the Office of Professional Responsibility was reorganized, Mr. Weis was selected as the Deputy Assistant Director for the Administrative Services Division. In May 2005 Mr. Weis reported to the Los Angeles Field Office where he served as the Criminal Special Agent in Charge."

So . . . he went to Los Angeles in 2005, Philadelphia in 2006, and Chicago in 2008. That's a lot of moves in a short period of time. Now he says he intends to stay here no more than three years . . .

*

TRIB: Do you believe the problems of corruption and misconduct in the Police Department are the result of a few bad apples or is it a systemic problem within the Police Department and if so, how would you change that?

WEIS: You know, I've gotta believe it's just a few people, because I know when I was here before, the officers we worked with were fantastic. The detectives on our bomb and crime squad were outstanding. The detectives and officers working on our gang squad were fantastic. Just top notch professionals. So I've gotta think it's just a few bad apples.

*

"I'm personally not convinced that you are the best qualified candidate to lead the Chicago Police Department," Ald. Pat Dowell told Weis at a city council hearing, according to the Defender. Dowell was the only councilmember to vote against Weis's confirmation.

"When I sat at the hearing [Monday], I didn't get the confidence that you really know what you are going to be doing. You didn't offer any kind of various strategies. A lot of questions that were asked, I didn't feel that you answered them. I think that someone coming to Chicago that would want this job, it seems to me that you would do a little homework about the city you would be working in."

Some of the questions that Weis could not answer at Monday's hearing hinged on diversity.

"When asked by the Black Caucus how many Blacks were under his command while he was in charge of the FBI's Philadelphia bureau, or under his command when he was in Los Angeles, Weis said he didn't have the answer.

"The Defender asked the same question yesterday, Weis said, 'I don't have that number.'

"Dowell told Weis that she is uncomfortable with his salary.

"'I was troubled by your justification of your salary. The fact that it wasn't based on your training or experience, it was based on your desire to be made financially whole,' Dowell said.

"By taking over the reins of the department, Weis said he is walking away from more FBI pension benefits he would get if he stayed with the bureau for another seven years; he is bearing the entire expense of relocating his family to Chicago; and he will not be receiving any health benefits from the city."

An alderman did a better job asking questions than the (white) press.

*

"Mayor Richard M. Daley clearly wanted somebody with an FBI pedigree to run his scandal-plagued police department and he got his man in J.P. 'Jody' Weis, the Special Agent in Charge of the bureau's Philadelphia office," the Tribune reported on its Swamp blog in December.

"But Weis wasn't Daley's first choice and probably not his second, third or fourth either, according to sources familiar with the talent hunt here in Washington."

The unanswered question: Why was Daley so fixated on hiring an FBI agent?

*

To his credit, Weis conducted some outreach efforts in Philadelphia.

To his discredit, Weis conducted some old-fashioned terrorist fear-mongering in the Fort Dix case.

To the media's shame - well, if they had any - we still don't know the most crucial facts about the guy. But we do know what his favorite movie is.



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Posted on January 14, 2008


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