Although Chicago crime is down 1.5 percent, one look at the news' daily reports about small children and teenagers being killed makes Chicagoans think otherwise. Superintendent Jody Weis decided to do something about this in August. He had a private meeting with the head of Chicago's gang leaders to let gang members know what would happen if the crime didn't decrease.
He told the gang leaders, "Keep your gangs in line or you will face the combined wrath of every law enforcement agency in the city of Chicago.'"
The Superintendent also threatened to take away homes and cars of both gang members and their family as soon as police could tie it to illegal activity.
Soda and sandwiches were served during the meeting, and there was talk of finding job opportunities in order to stop the violence. Weis has been accused of negotiating with criminals since the meeting on Aug. 17, and Chicagoans are divided on his decision.
"The warning is meaningless and will do nothing to control the gangs," said Chicagoan Jolie du Pre. "Chicago law enforcement works hard, but there is only so much they can do."
But Jody Weis disagrees. In a recent public forum, he said, "I'd rather take a shot and miss than to take no shots at all."
Rhonda Manning, a New Yorker currently living in Chicago, supports Weis' viewpoint.
"I believe Supt. Weis was acting with good intentions, with the permission of Mayor Daley, of course, meeting with gang members to try to calm the city and give them one last chance," said Manning. "If he can save one life, convince anyone to change, what does he have to lose? Unfortunately, his warning will fall on deaf ears. They have broken the law. No more idle threats. It's time for them to see the consequences."
Mike Felten, another Chicagoan, sees both the good and bad side of Weis' strategy.
"We have to do something to insure the safety of our children and our communities," said Felten. "I'm sure Weis is at the end of his rope trying to come up with some solutions. He has said that he will make the gangs' lives miserable. My immediate reaction was that he should be making their lives miserable. Being short of manpower he is up against it. He shouldn't be negotiating with criminals but given the circumstances there may not be any other solution."
According to the FBI's 2009 statistics, Chicago crime had the following results--out of a population of over 2.8 million, there were 458 murders, 15,877 robberies and 15,727 cases of aggravated assault. At one point, there was talk of the National Guard coming to Chicago to fight against crime, but Mayor Daley opposed that idea.
Even with the Chicago gun turn-in program turning in over 19,000 illegal guns from 2006 to present, violence continues. The Chatham neighborhood, which used to be a pretty peaceful area, has had increasing violence, including an officer named Thomas Wortham IV shot by his parent's Chatham home over a motorcycle robbery in May 2010.
Officer Michael Bailey, who was one month from retiring, was also killed over an automobile robbery in July 2010. While standing in a police parking lot, Officer Thor Soderberg was killed with his own gun in July 2010 during a struggle with another person. On Wed., Sept. 1, two more cops with a search warrant were shot while looking for a gang member. The last two are supposed to recover though.
There will be a candlelight police vigil at 7:15 p.m., on Tues., Sept. 14, in the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park. Visitors are encouraged to provide names for officers killed in the line of duty.
According to Red Eye, there have been 48 homicides in August 2010. Last year this time, there were 51.
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