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Anti-gang strategy launched after bloody weekend

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel rolled out a new strategy to reduce gang violence after a violent holiday weekend during which 10 people were shot and killed and close to 40 others wounded.

"Very clearly, we have a gang problem in the city of Chicago," Supt. McCarthy said at a press conference Tuesday.

A 13-year-old year old boy is the city's latest murder victim. Ivan Alanis was shot in the head about 2:20 a.m. Monday in the city's Uptown neighborhood. Police say he was eating pizza with his sister and her friend at a store in the 5100-block of North Broadway. The gunman opened fire from outside the store. Police say the victim was affiliated with two gangs.

Chicago's homicide rate at this point of the year is up nearly 50 percent. The vast majority of those homicides are gang-related.

"It's not OK that we had 53 shootings last week, but that 53 shootings is the same exact number of shootings that we had last year, so this is not a new problem. What it is is a new is the solution that we are applying to it," McCarthy said.

The police department's new Gang Violence Reduction Strategy includes gang audits, so-called wraparounds, and now some technology.

"Right now there are 59 gangs, 625 factions citywide," said Commander Jonathan Lewin, Chicago Police.

A computer program contains wants, warrants, known gang members with records, and their associates. That kind of information has long been available, but not packaged in quite this fashion, and within the next month, it'll be available on the frontlines to beat officers on the laptops in their squads.

"If the victim is a Gangster Disciple, possible retaliation is this street to this street and this street to this street. And that's where the deployment is going," McCarthy explained.

Police say it's another tool in the tool box -- not an answer-all -- and is meant to help front line cops be more proactive.

"In order to prevent a shooting or a homicide, you have to have the ability to intercept whispers. Nobody talks about shootings and homicides on the front end. So preventing retaliations is one thing, stopping them from shooting is another," said Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire, a group that for the last decade plus has mediated many gang disputes.

The mayor said Tuesday that CeaseFire's involvement will be lifted to a new level.

"Combined and coordinated, our forces are stronger than the gangs," Emanuel said.

The elevated role of CeaseFire has not yet been defined, but police say there'll be a model in the next week or so.

"I have the utmost faith in Superintendent McCarthy, but I just want to make sure this is going to work," said Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th Ward. "We have all heard this before, we've heard it in different ways. But let's see what this spin will do."

As for the technology part of the equation, the superintendent says it shifts the emphasis a bit from "hot spot" policing to "hot people" policing.

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