Gang violence then & now: Retired officer recount their days at Cabrini

Guns and gang activity seem to plague pockets of Chicago and tarnish the city’s name. But what are we doing differently in the year 2014 and what can be learned from history?

Billy Mokstad and his partner Greg Zito, were the first gang crimes specialists assigned to Cabrini Green in 1978.

Months later, Jack Dugan joined the gang crime specialists and together, roughly 10 men were assigned to monitor and investigate four gangs that ran the place.

The former undercover cops suggest the frustrations are the same but the circumstances are different. They feel sorry for officers fighting the good fight today. They all agree having gangs confined to the 70 acres making up Cabrini helped them police better.

They say their cars were targets, but they didn`t think they were being hunted down, just fought against. And the hierarchy within Cabrini gangs meant each shot had permission from above and it had purpose, which is not the case today.

The three retired Chicago police officers who have seen it all gave their perspective about gun violence then and now to WGN’s Julie Unruh.

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1 Comment

  • Edward Price

    The good old days were not as romantic as those cops recall. Circa 1968-1973, I operated a manufacturing business about 2 blocks away from Cabrini Green (unlovingly called The Vertical Zoo) employing about 300 women (yes, the men of C-G didn’t work). We had to black out our windows each night, as the project looked down on our building and one sport there was to randomly shoot through our windows at equipment lights. We had to have a check-cashing service come into our building, as the women would otherwise be robbed in or around local currency exchanges. The women used a convoy system to walk between C-G and our building; they would move in clusters of 20 or 30 women, hoping to intimidate muggers by the size of their group. The most dangerous section of their journey was the elevators inside C-G; some would never use the elevators, preferring a multi-story climb to being trapped in a box with whatever thug pushed a button. Needless to say, nobody worked overtime. So Mayor Green lived there for 3 weeks? Wow, what a commitment, especially since she had a 24/7 security detail hovering around her.

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