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Alderman sides with gov: Bring in state police to help combat crime

Ald. Willie B. Cochran (20th)

Ald. Willie B. Cochran (20th)

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Updated: October 25, 2013 6:22AM

A South Side alderman on Monday embraced Gov. Pat Quinn’s offer to have the Illinois State Police help in combating gang violence on the streets of Chicago, but Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he doesn’t want or need outside help.

Quinn made the offer after Friday’s shooting at a Back of the Yards park that left 13 people wounded, including a 3-year-old boy, shining another unflattering national spotlight on Chicago.

McCarthy is against the idea of joining forces with the state police.

“I say, `No way. No how. It’s not an issue of resources,” McCarthy said Monday after a police graduation ceremony at Navy Pier.

He said the same about suggestions the National Guard could aid in fighting crime.

“The National Guard is not a police force, they are a military force. . . . Let’s stop the hysteria” and take practical steps.

Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), a former Chicago Police officer, strongly disagreed.

He acknowledged that McCarthy’s strategy of flooding violence-prone “hot spots” with police officers working overtime and rookies on foot patrol has been “effective in reducing the rate of murders and violent crime” so far this year.

But the alderman also argued that “more needs to be done” for a neighborhood that “deserves better” and said it’s time to “exhaust all options” in the fight against gang violence.

“Gov. Quinn’s proposal to supplement Chicago’s existing law enforcement efforts with Illinois State Police power has merit. The city has partnered with the Illinois State Police on countless joint task forces in the past. This would be noting unusual,” Cochran said in a statement issued by his office.

“What it would be is an opportunity to get more officers on the criminal element. I’ve long called for increased patrols throughout the city as an essential part of an effective violence prevention strategy, but recognize law enforcement is but one component….I applaud Gov. Quinn for taking the initiative to offer Illinois State Police help to address safety in our city. Like the governor, I know we need to do more to prevent violence.”

Over the years, Illinois governors have made periodic offers to have the state police and even the Illinois National Guard assist in quelling outbreaks of gang violence in Chicago, only to get the cold shoulder from Chicago mayors.

A similar headline-grabbing proposal from now-convicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich infuriated former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who flatly rejected the offer for fear that it would become a national embarrassment.

Contributing: Stefano Esposito


Twitter: @fspielman

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