Source: CeaseFire has ‘no significant success stories’
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org November 13, 2012 12:54AM
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
Updated: December 14, 2012 6:20AM
More than three months into a $1 million contract with the city, the anti-violence group CeaseFire has “no significant success stories,” a ranking police source said. It’s hard to evaluate CeaseFire’s mediation of gang conflicts without getting timelier reporting from the group, the source added.
“You can’t wait two weeks later and tell us, ‘Oh yeah, we intervened in that.’ We need specifics and time lines,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Asked about the partnership, police Supt. Garry McCarthy said through a spokeswoman: “It’s a work in progress.”
But Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire Chicago, said that he has been communicating regularly with police officials and believes his group is making a dent in crime in the areas covered by the city’s new pilot program.
Hardiman said he understands the reluctance of some police officials to embrace the group, whose employees include ex-felons.
Hardiman insisted that his workers are busy preventing shootings. Last month, CeaseFire mediated nine gang conflicts in the Grand Crossing District on the South Side and the Ogden District on the West Side — the two districts in the pilot program, Hardiman said. He said he sent 49 emails to police officials concerning the conflicts — and received only 22 responses.
“The Chicago Police Department wants information immediately, and we do our best,” Hardiman said. “But communication is a two-way street. . . . All relationships are a work in progress, but don’t point the finger at us.”
The program is based in two police beats in the Ogden District and two beats in Grand Crossing. Twenty-four CeaseFire workers are assigned to those beats.
In October, CeaseFire mediated six conflicts in the Ogden beats and three conflicts in the Grand Crossing beats, Hardiman said. It can be dangerous work, he said, noting that one of his workers was grazed by a bullet recently in Grand Crossing.
Hardiman said there were no murders in the Ogden beats and one murder in the Grand Crossing beats last month.
“We have made a difference to a degree,” he said. “We understand the police are doing the lion’s share of the work. We are not trying to take the credit from the Chicago Police Department.”
In order to maintain the public’s trust, CeaseFire doesn’t provide police with the names of those involved in conflicts or identify their gang affiliations, Hardiman said. But in weekly meetings with the police, CeaseFire does provide general descriptions about each conflict, he said.
Hardiman, meanwhile, said he has met the department’s monthly deadlines for filing reports and has never missed a meeting with police officials.
“CeaseFire’s entire livelihood is based on documentation,” he said. “Our whole program is data-driven.”
Soon, CeaseFire will be asked to attend closed-door “CompStat” meetings at which Chicago Police supervisors will ask CeaseFire officials for more detailed information about mediations to measure the group’s success.
Police commanders attend similar meetings in which they are held accountable for crime in their districts.
“Nobody has put them through that level of scrutiny,” the police source said. “It’s an adjustment for them.”
Hardiman responded that he welcomes the scrutiny of CompStat meetings.
CeaseFire, which was featured in the acclaimed documentary “The Interrupters,” has received state and county funding over the past dozen years but no money directly from the city until now. The group employs about 100 workers across Chicago, including those in the city’s pilot program, Hardiman said.
“We will make the mayor and the residents of Chicago proud of CeaseFire,” he said. “CeaseFire is a proven model — and is all about saving people’s lives.”