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CHICAGO (CBS) – Police Supt. Garry McCarthy on Tuesday downplayed the significance of mob attacks in the downtown area, and said police are “on top of” the situation.
Mob attacks have been dominating the headlines in Chicago since around the beginning of the month. On June 4, two men were attacked by mobs of teens in Streeterville – one of whom was parking his scooter in the 300 block of East Chicago Avenue, the other of whom was assaulted while riding his bicycle at Lake Shore Drive and Huron Street.
Several high-profile incidents have hit the headlines since. A week ago, two teens were attacked by a mob of teens at Chicago and Wabash avenues in an altercation that began at the Oak Street Beach. On Thursday morning, the brother of Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was attacked by a mob while riding the CTA Red Line subway near Chicago Avenue.
But speaking on the CBS 2 Morning News Tuesday, McCarthy cautioned against characterizing every “multiple-offender” incident as the work of a “mob” or “flash mob.”
“Last Saturday, we had 10 to 15 kids involved in five separate robberies. That was the entirety of the event. We’ve arrested about 13 of them right now, so we think we have the whole crew locked up,” McCarthy said. “Those were high-profile bad events, but we were able to respond to them very quickly. Since then, every multiple-offender incident is being called a ‘flash mob,’ which it’s not.”
McCarthy acknowledged the seriousness of the attacks, given that they happened in busy areas teeming with tourists. But he repeated that one group of teens was primarily responsible.
“This is what I’m talking about – it was really one big event, and we’ve kind of shut it down. Since then, now the issue is getting the word out that look, we’re on top of this. We’ve made arrests. We’re deployed properly. It’s not a dynamic that’s going to continue,” he said. “Multiple-offender robberies have been happening for a long time. In this case, it’s high-profile – rightfully so – and we dealt with it.”
McCarthy also pointed out that the department has instituted new methods for preventing crime.
Since taking over as police superintendent, McCarthy’s has introduced a program, called CompStat, which tracks crime through computerized mapping and involves weekly strategy meetings based on the information gathered. It was started by New York City Transit Police Officer Jack Maple, and later implemented by New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
“Deployment is very important, but we don’t want to deter crime. We want to stop crime; we want to prevent crime, and if somebody goes out to commit a robbery and you put a police officer on the corner, they may go around the corner to commit that robbery if that’s what they want to do,” he said. “
“So CompStat is a little more about analysis, planning and prevention, and strategies to prevent crime.”
Last year, in the wake of a spate of shootings that had left 113 people dead in a period of only about four months, two state lawmakers called on Gov. Pat Quinn and then-Mayor Richard M. Daley to call in the National Guard. CBS 2 viewer Gerald Spencer asked McCarthy if it might be time to consider such an action again.
“Not in a million years,” McCarthy answered. “This is our job. We’ve got it.”
Former police Supt. Jody Weis, who quit in March, is also weighing in on the crime and officer deployment situation. Quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times, he said a never-used plan he had devised would have shifted 300 officers from 11 districts to the remaining 14 others based on 911 calls and other crime trends.
McCarthy said he would take a look at the plan.
“Since I got here – and it seems like a long time ago; it’s a month now – I’ve been saying that I don’t know if we have enough police officers. I want to know what everybody’s doing and where they are, and that’s the process that we’re undertaking,” he said. “I haven’t seen the analysis that Jody referred to. I’m going to reach out to him and take a close look at it, because you know what? I’ll take any advice that I can get.”
In the wake of the mob attacks, McCarthy was joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel over the weekend to announce the deployment of 150 more police officers in neighborhoods across the city. They were to be redeployed from desk and administrative jobs to neighborhoods such as Logan Square, Morgan Park and the Near North Side.