Through the end of June, homicides were up 37 percent in Chicago when compared with last year. But crime overall was down, leaving Mayor Rahm Emanuel to sing the praises of his new policing approach, launched in January.
The new way of doing things has drawn plenty of criticism in this violent year, as part of the plan involved dismantling specialized strike units in order to beef up patrol in certain troubled areas. Gang enforcement officers, narcotics forces, and patrol officers were centralized in targeted “conflict zones” over the past several months, hoping to have some effect on the crime rates in these areas.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “The concept was to raise police presence, eliminate corner drug markets,” and staying in these targeted areas rather than “running off to clean up the next trouble spot.”
Speaking on two areas where the new tactics were applied, Englewood and Harrison, Emanuel said, “In six months we did a special, new concentrated program in these two areas. Today they are — unlike some other areas — showing dramatic, not statistical, dramatic reduction in the homicide rate.”
In Englewood, Emanuel is crediting the program with reducing homicides by 43 percent. In Harrison, homicides have dropped 29 percent.
Now, he says, it’s time to move the program to other areas of the city. But they won’t be replicating the entire system, rather just focusing on specific problems in these areas, for instance, “the shootings in the Grand Crossing District,” according to police spokeswoman Lt. Maureen Biggane.
Some critics, however, question the overall effectiveness of the program if homicides are dramatically increasing in other areas—that perhaps the problem isn’t going away, but merely moving.
“I don’t think you do well by pointing to one area of the city and not acknowledging the other,” said Alderman Leslie Hairston. “I’m a fan of the specialized units. When you talk about violence, I like the proactive approach. I like having the teams in the area stopping crime before it happens.”
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy recently announced another tactical change for the department, saying that in order to prevent homicides, the police must identify the “likely killers before they kill,” according to the Sun Times.
What does all of this mean – the changes and cracking down? It simply means the police will be on full alert and may be found in more highly concentrated numbers within certain communities of the city.
Though crime overall is down, because homicides are up, you can count on the local court system and prosecutors going after all criminals with zeal.
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