Did Weis’ Controversial Gang Meeting Work?
CHICAGO (CBS) – He said his controversial meeting with hundreds of gang members would help fight crime, and on Sunday Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis has the numbers to prove it. CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports at least 200 gang members have been arrested since last August.
Homicides are down too, some 40% in Chicago’s troubled 11th district. Apparently at Weis’s much maligned gang meeting leaders were given a warning. The first gang to commit a homicide would be the focus of an intense police crackdown and it happened just two weeks later. Sunday CBS 2 traveled to the West Side, and met residents who’ve witnessed that warning put into action.
Near his West Side home, Lieutenant Randle notices a change, “The police be here all the time, every day, ” said the 78-year-old who has lived in his West Side home for 41 years.
Nearby problems still make another man reluctant to show his face, but he talks about the difference as he says the community seems safer. “The drug activity is what I see from the past and it’s slowed down a lot because of the police activity.”
“It’s a significant reduction of violence in the 11th district and it’s manpower intensive, ” said Weis.
In announcing the declining crime stats and increasing arrests, Weis credited a program of intense patrols of identified and interconnected gang members.”We know we are targeting the activities of the right people.”
The process, called “Social Network Analysis, ” began back in August when Weis called together West Side gangs, warning them the first to be involved in a homicide would be targeted by police. At the time, Weis was criticized for so-called “negotiating” with gangs.
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“I think there was a lack of understanding of what really went down to say we were negotiating with these individuals. I think those numbers speak for themselves,” added Weis.
Take Homicides, at 34 through August of last year, they registered a 13 percent increase over the previous year. In the months following the gang call in, they fell to 15%, a 40% drop from 2009.
“When I first saw it I had mixed emotions like everyone else because I wasn’t sure about what was going on,” said 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr.
He is now speaking out in favor of the program. He said as a result he’s noticed fewer calls to his office from citizens complaining about drug activity.
Weis offers up the numbers he is reporting as proof the program works. When gang members are put on notice, they are also given the opportunity to connect with social service agencies that cold provide training or job concealing as an alternative to gang activity. In spite of the critics who are still out there, Weis is planning another gang call in within the next two weeks.