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Editorial: Cease fire on knocking CeaseFire for now

CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman (left) says anti-violence pilot program is working. “We have made difference degree” he says.  |

CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman (left) says the anti-violence pilot program is working. “We have made a difference, to a degree,” he says. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:18AM

Is it time for some conflict intervention here?

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times this week, a high-ranking Chicago cop, who was not named, criticized the anti-violence group CeaseFire for having “no significant success stories.”

CeaseFire, which is affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago, tries to reduce shootings by sending “interrupters,” who often are ex-felons, into the streets to mediate conflicts. It’s not an easy job in neighborhoods where disputes often are settled with bullets.

In July, the city announced it was giving CeaseFire $1 million to expand its efforts in two especially violence-prone neighborhoods.

But now some in the Police Department don’t think the group is providing timely reporting of its activities.

“You can’t wait two weeks later and tell us, ‘Oh yeah, we intervened in that,’ ” the police source told the Sun-Times. “We need specifics and timelines.”

The police and CeaseFire have the same mission — stopping violence — but don’t share all information. It rankles police that CeaseFire doesn’t pass on tips about conflicts that might lead to violence, but the intervention group thinks it can’t be effective if it is seen as an arm of law enforcement.

Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire Chicago, says his group is doing everything it can to communicate effectively with police.

“We don’t just mediate conflicts, we also change mind-sets and behaviors,” Hardiman said.

That means the group’s success is measured by what doesn’t happen, rather than what does, which by definition is harder to track.

Also, Hardiman, said, it has been only a month and a half since CeaseFire’s expanded efforts have been fully up and running.

At some point, the city may decide it’s not getting enough for its $1 million. But right now, it seems a little premature to start criticizing the results.

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