Authorities in the city of Chicago have faced up to the issue of gun violence in their city. Some may be glad of the changes others resisting change and being brought into the new reality kicking and screaming.
Regardless there are changes afoot.
Chicago is not the murder capital of the US
There are many cities which fare worse than Chicago, but a sharp rise in crime in 2016 continues into an ongoing level of violence into 2018. Nonetheless, the city has recognized the problem. Their difficulty is ascribing a reason for it.
There is nothing to point to as a specific cause. A perfect storm of social need, a lack of facilities and joblessness could be contributors, but not the reason. This makes the issue harder to fix. If you know the root cause you can fix it. If you don’t then there is an issue.
Steps taken by the Police
The Chicago police force has implemented a host of measures to help in policing the situation and hopefully to improve community relations.
In the 1990s Chicago had a problem with large gangs protecting their reputation and drug trade with gun violence. The remnants of these gangs are still in existence and the Chicago police attributed around 75% of the violence to issues between gangs.
Taking help from the Los Angeles Police department, the police in Chicago have adopted a policy of hot spot policing. The concept gives the police data from information gathered on the street from which they can send teams to try and counteract the violence. It is an old concept and it is one which LAPD has proven works.
Another step for the police is to target repeat offenders. Dispiriting though it is to deal with the same people time and again, the goal of targeting the habitual gun carriers and imposing stricter penalties on those convicted will hopefully send the message. The policy is not without its detractors, but in a climate where something has to happen, it at least is something.
Police morale and professionalism
Not surprisingly police morale hit a low in a culture of mistrust. Following the excessive shooting of a black teenager by an officer, the ripples flowed through both communities; anger, outrage and sorrow in the black community, firings and a possible isolationism on the part of the police.
Steps to improve trust and community relations are being taken by the police on one side and community leaders on the other. Both acknowledge there’s a long way to go. The police also restructured the authority policing the police. This will now be a civilian body which has wider power than the internal board.
Another attempt is to give officers on the scene options, with Tasers for example. Lastly, the commission intends to add to the force. Not surprisingly the number of police on the street has diminished as the danger increased. It is a good start.