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CPD launches new “custom notifications” anti-violence program

The Chicago Police Department launched a new crime-fighting tactic Friday, going door-to-door notifying potential criminals not to commit any violent crimes.

The “custom notifications” will be made by a Chicago Police commander and will begin as a pilot program in the Austin District on the West Side.

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The so-called ‘heat list’ was assembled based on the work of Andrew Papachristos, a University of Chicago grad who is now a sociologist at Yale University.

Funded by research grants through the Robert Wood Johnson foundation– Papachristos studied murders on Chicago’s west side from 2005 to 2010.  He discovered that the majority of killings were in a social network that comprises only two percent of the population on the west side.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy says citywide– that network of violence is made up of about 16,000 people, mostly gang members.  Of those 16,000, police have narrowed the list down to 400 people most likely to shoot someone, or be the victim. 25 of those people live in the 15th district and starting Friday, each will receive a personal visit from Commander Barb West – who will deliver a letter detailing that person’s criminal history.

Chicago Police Commander Barb West said “Many times, people over their history, may have forgotten some of the things they’ve done– so this is a reminder. This is your past, take a look at it very hard.”

She said she will spend a few minutes with each person discussing the consequences if he or she is arrested again.

“I think this will be a conversation, this is your history, this is what you could possibly face,” Cdr. West said “I plan on it being a short conversation, not just here and we move on to the next place.”

Police making the visits Friday will be accompanied by an “influential member of the community such as a coach or pastor.” Friday McCarthy emphasized that this new program isn’t an attempt to threat these individuals.

“We’re telling them, that they’re likely to be a victim of homicide and that they need to change their behaviors and get out of the network that they’re in,” McCarthy said, “We’re not threatening them, but we are telling them that based on their criminal histories.. If they are arrested, we’re going to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

People who live on the west side are doubtful the program will work:

“I don’t think it’s gonna work at all,” Shatia Brown said “the crime is only going to rise, they’re gonna do what they want to do, they’re gonna find ways to do it.”

George Crayton said “I think it’s a bogus program cause it’s like profiling people, you got guys like me, I’m an ex-felon, I work right there on the corner, they grabbed me the other day cause I had a red shirt, I guess I looked like a gang member.”

“It’s gonna be crime, it’s gonna be violent activity, drug activity,” Melanie Frentress said “You don’t think these letters will make a difference? Absolutely not!”

The Chicago Police Department launched a new crime-fighting tactic Friday, going door-to-door notifying potential criminals not to commit any violent crimes.

The “custom notifications” will be made by a Chicago Police commander and will begin as a pilot program in the Austin District on the West Side.

Commander Barbara West will deliver letters to 20 people whose names appear on a “heat list”, which comes from research based on murders that occurred between 2005 to 2010 on the West Side.

Yale University professor Andrew Papachristos found 70 percent of the killings were in a social network of 1,600 out of a total group of 80,000 people.

Superintendent Garry McCarthy says the department narrowed the list to more than 400 “hot people” who are most likely to commit shootings or become victims.

A church pastor or coach will accompany police when they hand deliver “custom notifications” to those on the list and will offer help lead them in a positive direction.

The program has already been introduced in High Point, NC.

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