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Anti-violence leader accused of domestic battery

Tio Hardiman mugshot/Hillside Police Department

Tio Hardiman mugshot/Hillside Police Department

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Updated: July 2, 2013 8:05AM

The head of the CeaseFire Illinois anti-violence group is in police custody in west suburban Hillside, charged with domestic battery, and the arrest could threaten the organization’s funding from the city of Chicago.

The wife of Tio Hardiman, CeaseFire Illinois director and creator of the Violence Interrupter Initiative, “came into the police station” Friday morning to report a domestic battery, said Hillside Police Chief Joseph Lukaszek.

Hillside police went to Hardiman’s home in the west suburb and arrested him, Lukaszek said.

Hardiman, charged with domestic battery, was in custody Friday and will remain behind bars until a bond hearing Saturday, the chief said.

An unidentified man at the Hardiman home said the family would not comment on the incident.

Influential aldermen said Hardiman’s arrest was troubling and may compel the city to review its contractual ties to CeaseFire. The group has a one-year, $1-million contract with the city to mediate gang disputes in two troubled neighborhoods.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office referred a call about Hardiman’s arrest to the city’s Department of Public Health, which administers the contract. A spokesman said the department is awaiting details on the case before deciding if any action is needed.

Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th), Emanuel’s floor leader in the City Council, said that if Hardiman committed a crime, “it would be appropriate for the city to ask if that’s where we want to spend our money.”

Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) called the arrest “disturbing” and said that if allegations against Hardiman are true, “it certainly isn’t something that gives a lot of credence to CeaseFire.”

The Sun-Times reported last year that at least six people have been charged with committing drug-related crimes while on the group’s payroll over the prior five years. CeaseFire also has received state funding.

Many Chicago police distrust the group, although CeaseFire leaders have responded that if its mediators acted as snitches on gang members, they would lose their ability to resolve conflicts. The group’s mediators, which it calls “interrupters,” often are felons.

Mike Shields, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, wouldn’t comment directly on Hardiman’s arrest but said it doesn’t affect his union’s strong opposition to CeaseFire. He said CeaseFire has been unable to document claims that it has reduced shootings.

“The city is still several thousand officers short [in staffing levels] while it is giving money to convicted felons,” Shields said.

CeaseFire addresses homicide as a public health issue, and Hardiman came up with the concept of hiring ex-offenders to mediate disputes before shots are fired.

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has not hidden the fact that he was not “a big fan” of CeaseFire, primarily because he didn’t like that the group doesn’t share information about crimes it gleans from the streets.

CeaseFire, which was featured in the acclaimed documentary “The Interrupters,” has received state and county funding over the past dozen years. As recently as December, Hardiman said the group employed about 100 workers across Chicago.

Contributing: Frank Main

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