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Chicago police claim 40-percent homicide drop on West Side due to new strategies

Shawn Rudolph (L) and Kyjianzi Harris  (R)
Shawn Rudolph (L) and Kyjianzi Harris (R)Chicago Police Dept.

Chicago police today are boasting a pair of homicide arrests and touting a crime strategy the department credits with a 40-percent drop in the murder rate in one of the city's most violent police districts.

On the South Side, Shawn Rudolph, 20, of the 5700 block of S. Indiana, is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the Sept. 19, 2010, shooting death of a 15-year-old boy.

The boy was shot in the head when police say Rudolph fired into a group of people near 72nd and Hermitage just before midnight.

Police have also charged Kyjuanzi Harris, 22, of the 400 block of E. 49th St., with the May 21, 2009, murder of a couple in a car on the 3000 block of W. Van Buren.

Harris was allegedly in another vehicle that pulled up alongside the car and opened fire on the victims. A 27-year-old man and a 19-year-old female were killed.

Police Supt. Jody Weis, meanwhile, called a press conference Sunday to update reporters on anti-violence initiatives in the Harrison District (11) on the West Side -- initiatives he claims have caused a 40-percent reduction in district homicides.

One initiative is the gang "call-in." Last summer, Weis and other police brass met with West Side gang leaders and told them the department would use all its resources to crack down on the next gang responsible for a murder.

The Black Souls gang was the first targeted following a shooting by one of its members two weeks after the meeting. Sixty street gang members were arrested for various offenses over the course of the crackdown.

(See: New gang 'call-in' program nets 60 arrests of Black Souls street gang)

A simultaneous operation, "Blue Knight," targeted the Traveling Vice Lords and their illegal drug business. Weis said that operation totaled more than 100 arrests.

(See: Traveling Vice Lords target of drug probe netting nearly 100 arrests)

The bottom line, Weis said, is that between mid-August, when he first conducted the gang call-in and December 31, 2010, homicides in the 11th district dropped 40 percent over the same period in 2009.

"The next call-in is on the horizon, and the message will be clear – the next gang-related homicide will receive the full attention of all law enforcement partners," Weis said in a prepared statement.