CeaseFire predicts murders will be down this year
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org April 12, 2013 6:38PM
Tio Hardiman, director for CeaseFire Illinois came out to support State Rep. LaShawn Ford, who pleaded not guilty to bank fraud charges at the Federal Building. Tuesday, December 11, 2012. I Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: May 15, 2013 6:58AM
Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire Illinois, predicted last week that Chicago is turning the corner on homicides.
“Normally, there is a spike in reducing homicides during the months of March and April. We are not experiencing that spike so far this year. Whenever you don’t have a spike in March or April, you are on your way to historic lows in homicides.”
Whether the reduction is because of Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy’s aggressive policing strategy or the unseasonably chilly weather isn’t yet clear.
On Friday, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department credited the reduction to a comprehensive policing strategy that includes “gang violence reduction initiative,” “targeted narcotics initiative,” “community policing” and “a close partnership between the Chicago Police Department and the community.”
“The results of these efforts are measurable and can be seen in the reduction of overall crime, murders and shootings,” said Adam Collins, director of police news affairs, in an email.
“The department continues to work with CeaseFire and district commanders that communicate with them regularly while we evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts.” CeaseFire Illinois was awarded a $1 million contract from the city last year to bring its initiative to two police districts — one on the South Side and one on the West Side.
McCarthy’s “evaluation” of the group could have an impact on the role CeaseFire Illinois plays in the future.
After all, the relationship between Hardiman and McCarthy is an arranged marriage.
Last year, when gang violence drove Chicago’s homicide rate to a 50 percent increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced McCarthy to form a partnership with the anti-violence group.
CeaseFire Illinois is a partner of “Cure Violence,” the original initiative developed by Gary Slutkin. Both organizations address homicide as a public health issue. But Hardiman came up with the concept of hiring ex-offenders to function as “violence interrupters” that mediate disputes before shots are fired.
McCarthy didn’t hide 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.
Recently, when a CeaseFire worker told a reporter that he wouldn’t tell police if he saw someone get shot, the remarks gave the program’s critics fresh fodder.
In such a situation, a program manager would have followed up with police. CeaseFire has worked with every police chief since Terry Hillard, and was the first group to be invited to deployment and operations meetings, Hardiman said.
“I don’t want people thinking that CeaseFire does not work with police. But we stay in our lane. And our lane is to work with these guys and help turn them around. If we stop it on the front end, nobody goes to jail. Nobody goes to the cemetery,” he said.
In the Woodlawn area, where CeaseFire is active in two police beats, there were no homicides in the first three months of 2013; and no homicides in February and March in the North Lawndale area, according to statistics compiled by the group.
Keeping the peace is not a job for the faint-hearted.
Hardiman described a recent incident that took place near 61st and Evans that could have resulted in a shooting.
“We got a call from a father that his son had been beaten up by three guys. They were threatening the wife, threatening the father, and saying, ‘to hell with you. I ain’t gonna listen to nobody.’ I called the violence interrupters and they went there and mediated that conflict. We stopped the entire conflict,” Hardiman said.
“We don’t want to mess that trust up. Because once people feel that CeaseFire is in total cooperation with the police, they are not going to trust us. So we won’t get the call that a guy is about to kill two people. We have to balance the trust that we have with the police, with the trust we have on the street.”
He dismisses the notion that there is a need for CeaseFire workers to act as informants.
“It is a big myth that people aren’t telling out there. You can arrest 40 people right now and 38 people are telling before they get to the district station. So you don’t need CeaseFire to play that role,” he said.
“Our role is to have legitimacy, trust and credibility on the streets so we can stop somebody from hurting somebody.”