suntimes
DYNAMIC 
Weather Updates

Chicago needs more cops, not troopers

Shootings In Chicago Add To 'Murder Capital' Label

Shootings In Chicago Add To 'Murder Capital' Label

storyidforme: 55502870
tmspicid: 20333718
fileheaderid: 9417749

Updated: October 26, 2013 6:28AM



Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy this week summarily dismissed the idea of bringing in the Illinois State Police to help quell the violence in Chicago.

As he should.

At it’s best, it would be like trying to patch up a big wound with a shriveled Band-Aid. At its worst, bringing in outsiders who don’t know and aren’t trained for Chicago’s streets could inflame tensions and put State Police at unnecessary risk.

We get why Gov. Pat Quinn offered up the idea — it’s good politics for a guy running for re-election. Plus Quinn is the kind of guy who genuinely likes to pitch in where he can.

Quinn’s gentle offer of support sure beats a more aggressive headline-grabbing effort a few years back by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who wanted to bring in the Illinois National Guard. That was an even worse idea.

The real answers, of course, are much harder to pull off and far more complicated. But those are the ones worth plugging away at.

In the wake of last Thursday’s mass shooting into crowded Cornell Square Park near 51st and Wood that injured 13 people, now’s the time to dig deeper for real answers.

Beside a strong investment in people in troubled neighborhoods, including better schools, economic development and job opportunities, these include:

♦ Good police work. Kudos to the police and Chicagoans, who pitched in with tips and cooperation, leading to the arrests Monday and Tuesday of four young men, including two alleged shooters.

As we said on Sunday, despite the horror of Thursday’s shooting, overall crime, shootings and homicides are down considerably over last year. That’s thanks, in part, to new policing strategies that should continue. These include flooding violence-prone hot spots with police officers working overtime and rookies on foot patrol; a “wraparound strategy” of police presence and support for targeted blocks; and “custom notifications,” where cops knock on doors of people considered most likely to become shooters of victims to warn them that the hammer will come down if they commit a violent crime.

♦ Money for more cops. McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel keep saying Chicago has enough cops. But in May the Sun-Times reported that police overtime spending already was $10.5 million over budget, well before crime spiked as it always does in the summer months. This represents a truer estimate of what it costs to fight crime in Chicago and cannot be cut back.

♦ Slow the drug trade that sparks gang warfare. Police believe Thursday’s shooting was gang related, saying some victims in the park were members of the Gangster Disciples and the shooters were suspected of being affiliated with the Black P Stones and intent on avenging a shooting from earlier in the day. A recent investigative piece in Bloomberg Markets Magazine lays out how drugs from one cartel in Mexico are fueling deadly gang turf wars in Chicago. One cartel, according to a federal official quoted by Bloomberg, supplies 80 percent of the heroin, cocaine, pot and methamphetamine flowing into the region each year. With that near monopoly the cartel controls prices, leaving the gangs only one way to keep profits flowing: seize more territories.

♦ Mandatory minimum sentencing. McCarthy and Emanuel this week are again pushing to increase from one year to three the mandatory minimum sentence for illegally carrying a gun. Despite the strong appeal of this idea — who doesn’t want criminals off the streets? — this would tie the hands of experienced judges who must be allowed to make commonsense exceptions to the rule. We’re not arguing against stiff sentences. We’re arguing for smart sentences.

On guns, we’re rather see the focus turn to the national fight to ensure universal background checks and to crack down on gun traffickers, who help flood Chicago’s streets with guns.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.