Head of CPD says despite tragic losses, police made progress reducing crime

CHICAGO — Volunteers served meals to officers of the 5th District Sunday, hoping to raise their spirits after a difficult year where they lost multiple officers, including two who were killed by a Metra train earlier this month.

A memorial sits near the front entrance of CPD's Area South headquarters for officers Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo, who were struck by a train and killed while searching for a suspect with a gun on December 17. Two other officers out of the district took their own lives, and a fifth collapsed and died on the job.

"These officers in particular they have some weight on their shoulders," CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson said Sunday. "I'm still humbled and proud of them because despite the tragedies they've had to deal with the last few months they still come to work every day and do what we ask them to do."

It has been a tough year for the Chicago Police Department, with the loss of seven of their own, including four killed in the line of duty.

Volunteers with "Walking in My Shoes" served officers inside the police headquarters Sunday. Johnson said police chaplains and counselors with CPD's Employee Assistance Program have also been on hand, counseling officers who need someone to talk to.

Johnson said  police are busy prepping for New Year's Eve, when thousands of people are expected to journey downtown to join in celebrations there.

"We'll have a high presence uniform and others in a covert nature; we'll be prepared for it," Johnson said.

Looking back at crime in 2018 overall, the head of CPD said he's not ready to celebrate yet, but believes things are heading in the right direction. When it comes to shootings, he said Chicago has seen a 32 percent reduction from 2016 numbers, and nearly 10,000 illegal weapons were taken off the streets in 2018.

"We keep trending down, next year it will be down even more," Johnson said. "Those are huge numbers."

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