View The YouTube Video
Mayor Richard M. Daley today characterized violence on Chicago's streets as the City's "most immediate and pressing challenge" and outlined a series of new initiatives to address it.
"Violence is a complex challenge. As reasonable people understand, making Chicago safer doesn't have one answer, it has many. That's why we're working on many fronts and in many ways to make our streets safer," Daley said in a news conference held at 15th Police District headquarters, 5701 W. Madison St.
The Mayor said that the gang bangers and drug dealers who are responsible for much of the City's street violence are a "small but violent part" of Chicago.
"The problem is that they believe they're above the law and they don't care about the consequences of their violence. As a city, we must stand up to them," he said.
Daley said he believes that with strong policing, greater resident involvement and strong gun laws, the tide of violence can be turned, and he outlined several new initiatives the City will undertake in that effort.
- More collaborative activities with federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The Mayor said he has met with leaders -- including this morning with Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and representatives from the office of Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans -- with the goal of a coordinated and united front in the fight against violence. As an example of this kind of coordination, Daley described "Operation Return to Owner," a collaboration among the Chicago Police Department and seven other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
- The first-of-its-kind initiative, aimed at reducing violence and making the streets safer in three police districts that have experienced high levels of crime, resulted in more than 100 arrests and the seizure of guns and narcotics.
- Accelerating the use of $9 million in federal economic stimulus funds to pay for overtime to more police on street duty on weekends. Currently, the City is using the funds to add more officers to the streets on Friday and Saturday nights. With this change, the City will now add more officers on an additional night, as well
- Predictive Policing: Launched in April and now being expanded, this approach integrates many crime-fighting tools -- including analysis, technology and intelligence -- to help fight crime more efficiently.
The Chicago Police Department is one of only a handful of police departments across the country to pilot this new approach, which is funded by the National Institute of Justice and involves a partnership with Illinois Institute of Technology.
Redoubling efforts to fight the gun trafficking that brings illegal weapons to Chicago's streets.
- In its role as Chair of the new Illinois Interstate Gun Trafficking Task Force, the Chicago Police Department will lead efforts towards engaging police departments statewide to accomplish three main objectives:
- Share more information with each other and with the state and federal government on gun crimes and crime gun trace data;
- Develop better strategies to identify gun traffickers within their jurisdictions, and
- Jointly pursue new state legislation to crack down on traffickers.
- Convening a series of meeting with local law enforcement officials, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, criminal law experts and leaders in the re-entry community to help better understand how the justice system can reduce the number of criminals on the streets.
- New follow up mechanism with CAPS anti-violence marches to give residents who participate new ways they can stay involved in the shared fight to end the violence.
These initiatives build on anti-violence steps previously announced, including:
- Adding police personnel to street patrol. In the last year, the Department has transferred 268 officers from behind desks to street patrol and in next year's budget will fund the hiring of additional police officers to patrol the City's neighborhoods.
- Funding the hiring of 100 additional police officers to patrol neighborhoods.
- Staggering start times for gang and tactical teams so they are on the street when needed the most and creating a 100-person strategic response team being deployed in the City's most violent areas.
- Using federal grant funds through the City's Neighborhood Stabilization Program to acquire vacant and foreclosed residential properties so they can be returned to productive use and no longer blight communities or serve as magnets for crime.
In July, 2009, there were 57 homicides in Chicago. In July, 2010, there were 43.
"But numbers don't provide much consolation if you've lost a family member or friend to violence or feel vulnerable to its awful grip," he said. "The fight to protect Chicago's streets, and especially our children, must continue."
# # #