CHICAGO -- When it comes to fighting violence in Chicago, a new strategy is seeing success.
Top officials are praising Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s “strategic target list” as a big reason behind the drop in homicides over the Fourth of July weekend.
Officials were careful to say that the 61 people wounded in shootings over the weekend was unacceptable.
But the number of killings over the holiday weekend is down compared to the past two years.
“We did see a decrease in the number of murders that occurred over previous years, especially this year, since we had a three-day holiday weekend compared to two days last year,” Supt. Johnson said.
It’s clear that targeting repeat offenders is working. In fact most of those wounded were already on a police list of people likely to be involved in violent crime.
Supt Johnson says the roundup of repeat offenders is part of the success. On Friday, 88 suspected gang members were arrested.
Most were charged with drug and weapons offenses and all of them were off the streets during the weekend.
“We know who these repeat offenders are. We just need to hold them accountable before they even commit their crimes or become a victim of a crime,” Johnson said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the decrease in homicides is a positive step and reflects an effective policing strategy.
“It’s a clear signal that the repeat offender strategy, or the “strategic target list,” as he would note, are the people committing the lion’s share of the gun violence,” Emanuel said. “Getting them off the street has an impact on the quality of life of our streets.”
Emanuel acknowledged that the city can’t sustain massive police deployments with hundreds of officers earning overtime pay every weekend. But he says strategic deployments, combined with reforming the criminal justice system so that repeat offenders stay locked up, will in the long run be a sustainable and successful strategy.
The Rev Jesse Jackson, who has long campaigned against violence in the city, says that while the crime statistics are better, this is no time to declare success.
“None of us can really celebrate that fact that so few got killed when so many got shot,” Jackson said. “We’re still asking for a White House conference on violence and poverty and a plan. Because there’s no plan to stop this madness.”
Among those shot this weekend were two young children. 5-year-old Taniyah Williams and her 8-year-old brother Corey Bondurant were both shot in the leg during a surge of violence on the south side Monday night.
Police say the shooting appears to be gang-related -- but it's not clear who was being targeted.
The two children are expected to recover.