Chicago is currently saturated in a wave of increased murders as a direct result of gun violence. There have been more than1091 shooting incidents. This is an increase of 12 percent when compared to last year. And 260 murders have occurred, an increase of 37 percent since last year.
In an effort to fight crime, Chicago Superintendent Garry McCarthy uses a management philosophy based on the Bill Bratton approach . Bill Bratton was the Commissioner of the NYPD in the mid-1990s. The NYPD murder rate was cut in half during his tenure and his technique became a national model adopted in cities across the country.
His technique was the CompStat system, an organizational management tool for police departments to map and analyze crime statistics and hold commanders accountable while indicating how each district was performing. He also practiced the “broken windows” theory which instructed cops to crack down on minor offenses such as curfew violations and loud music underscoring- that the best way to fight crime is to fight the disorder that precedes it. Levels of bureaucracy were minimized thus eliminating middle managers and emphasizing the job of the beat cop.
Superintendent Garry McCarthy began applying the CompStat system in June 2011. While this strategy may have reduced crime in New York, results have been less than impressive in Chicago. Unfortunately, significant gun violence continues to be an issue and is directly attributed to youthful unorganized gangs.
These gang “cliques” or factions, some controlling no more than a block or two, have fueled much of the 37 percent rise in murders during the first six months of 2012, Superintendent McCarthy said.
“They are the fracturing of the bigger gangs,” McCarthy said. “Pick the Gangster Disciples. That’s the biggest gang in the city. Now, there’s God knows how many factions of the GDs. Now, they have their own internal disputes between the cliques- and sometimes within the cliques.”
Superintendent McCarthy authorized a citywide gang audit to help officers recognize the fluid gang boundaries and affiliations. Completed in May, the audit shows that Chicago now has 59 active street gangs with 625 factions- up from 500 factions and 68 gangs in 2003.
Various strategies to dent crime have been implemented but to no avail. McCarthy touted a “wraparound” strategy designed to better connect residents in crime-ridden neighborhoods with social services, such as job placement, domestic violence counseling, camps for kids, and the like.
On June 11, the Violence Reduction Overtime Initiative was announced. It was a new plan to pay officers overtime to work extra hours in troubled areas. The initiative was targeted at curbing the growing violence with officers directed to get out of their cars and be aggressive. By the end of that weekend, 35 people had been shot and 7 killed.
How can the senseless gun violence and murders be stopped?
Without a doubt, stricter gun laws are needed to prevent convicted felons and other prohibited persons from obtaining guns. Positive changes in the national economy and a calming of urban drug markets would also be helpful.
But in the meantime, here are ten measures with the potential to help decrease the violence as Chicago’s leaders ponder more aggressive crime fighting strategies and tactics- short of calling in the National Guard.
1. Maintain a continued partnership between the Chicago Police Department and Operation Ceasefire Illinois, an innovative violence prevention organization that applies public health principles in its approach to reduce the number of shootings and killings in communities with the highest rates of murder and poverty.
The two main elements of Ceasefire are (1) the direct attack on illicit firearms traffickers and (2) a set of intervention actions that can give gang members a strong deterrent to gun violence. Police can place strong and targeted enforcement pressure or harsh sanctions on gang members to discourage gun carrying. This is known as “lever pulling.” They can also spread the word among gang members about increased enforcement or all anticrime measures, known as “retailing.”
2. Ensure that Directed Police Patrols are dedicated to gun violence prevention, that they do not have to respond to 911 calls, and are trained in citizen interaction and gun seizures. Pedestrian and vehicle traffic are stopped as a blanketing effort or by targeting suspicious activity. Police work closely with citizens within the targeted communities to secure community support and address concerns. The officers on patrol are trained to treat citizens with respect and explain the reasons for the stop.
3. Build Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI) which can reduce violent crime in targeted communities by as much as 50 percent.
Key elements of the SACSI strategy are:
· Leadership by local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices within a collaborative, multiagency partnership.
· Integration of researchers into planning and execution of intervention strategies.
· Design and implementation of interventions that incorporate tactics proven to reduce illegal gun carrying and use.
4. Form Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) around five basic components.
· Partnerships: among law enforcement agencies, state and federal prosecutors, parole and probation agencies, and community groups– resulting in joint case reviews, chronic violent offender lists, offender notification meetings and directed police patrols in hot spots.
· Strategic Planning: aimed at enforcement, prosecution, deterrence and prevention.
· Training: more than 17,000 PSN members had received training by 2005.
· Outreach: including “Hard Time for Gun Crime,” a nationwide public service announcement campaign.
· Accountability: through various reporting mechanisms.
5. Create federal, state, and local collaborations to offer advantages for local crime fighters facing high rates of gun violence. This includes agencies working across departmental lines in probation, parole, the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS), the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Cook County District Attorney’s Office.
6. Create conducive police-researcher partnerships that are vital for action research and intervention which works best when police set aside their reservations or “turf issues” and researchers are flexible and sensitive to law enforcement concerns and priorities. For example, social service workers could be dispatched to deal with the most at-risk youths on the streets to connect them with services and keep them out of trouble.
7. Use Problem-solving Policing crime analysis to locate concentrations of crime called “hot- analysis,” to help police identify high-crime areas, types of crime being committed, and other information that will help craft the most effective response.
8. Focus on Deterrence-Targeting High-Risk Areas and Offenders in hot-spots of violent crime to convince gang members that just carrying an illegal gun or using it will result in a severe federal sentence without parole.
Remain focused on open-air drug markets which can create attractive targets for armed robbers; draw local youth into the drug trade as well as nonresident drive-through buyers; spur the creation of loose drug “crews” whose feuds can increase gun violence; and lead to the acquisition and use of firearms by dealers, buyers and some residents.
9. Increase involvement and honest communication from community leaders and organizations like the NAACP and National Urban League about personal responsibility and necessary changes needed in the physical and social environment while addressing the causes of violence. Implement mentoring programs that pairs a young person with an adult who can serve as a positive role model to guide the young person’s behavior.
10. Increase family education through social service agencies to prevent violence before it starts. Parents can receive training in child development and learn skills for talking with their kids and solving problems in nonviolent ways. Social-development strategies can teach children and adolescents to handle tough socio-economic situations and to resolve problems without using violence.
Melissa Bynes Brooks is the editor of BrooksSleepReview.