9/19/2012

Chicago's gang problem, role of cuts and changes in police policies

Murder during the first six months of 2012 was up by 38% to 263.  From the Christian Science Monitor:
The police and city officials say street gangs are responsible for 80 percent of all shootings this year. Chicago recently surpassed Los Angeles – the longtime gang capital of America – in total gang membership and activity, say crime experts. 
Just how many gangs operate in the Chicago area is debatable – sources say between 59 and 70, with as many as 150,000 members. But the big street gangs that dominated here in the early 1990s have splintered into as many as 600 factions, according to police. These splinter groups identify with the heritage of the long-established gangs – borrowing their name mainly as a brand – but they tend not to be bound by their rules. 
Whereas the historic gang warfare was between monolithic crime organizations that controlled thousands of members each, today's street violence more often stems from personal squabbles and retaliatory conflicts among smaller hybrid groups whose control extends only a few blocks. . . .
Rahm Emanuel has certainly left his stamp on the police department.  Here is an article from last October.
As the Chicago Reader reports, despite Emanuel's claim that "nearly 750 additional officers" have been deployed to Chicago's neighborhoods over the course of his first 100 days in office, the number of Chicago police officers has actually decreased slightly. As of last Wednesday, the force is down 260 since last October and short 700 officers compared to five years ago. The bulk of the 750 "new" cops were redeployed from special operations units created by former top cop Jody Weis. 
Earlier this month, McCarthy said his department would "trim the fat on executive staff," not the police force, to deliver $1 million in budget savings. Meanwhile, since he was appointed earlier this summer, McCarthy has repeatedly vowed to make "quality of life" arrests -- such as noise violations or public drinking, as two examples -- a priority for his force. McCarthy has claimed such "sweating the small stuff" helps prevent larger crimes, like shootings, before they happen. . . . 
Shortly after that Emanuel cut more from the budget.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police on Wednesday dismissed Mayor Rahm Emanuel's call for massive cuts -- reportedly to the tune of $190 million of the Chicago Police Department's $1.3 billion budget -- as a "stunt." . . .

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