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Police Unveil Plan To Stop Gang Shootings Before They Start

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. (Credit: CBS/File)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. (Credit: CBS/File)

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Updated 05/29/12 – 8:48 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Following another bloody weekend of gang mayhem in Chicago, Mayor Emanuel and his top police commanders on Tuesday announced a new plan to help stop the bloodshed.

Armed with new computer-generated analytics, police will now target gang members they believe could be prime suspects in any planned retaliation for earlier gang shootings. Under the system, police would move to seize weapons–and make arrests–before rival gang members can target their rivals.

The announcement comes following a violent weekend in Chicago during which 10 people were shot dead and dozens more wounded.

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Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the system, if fully implemented, would have likely prevented several shootings over the weekend. He said that the program is already reaping results–with gun seizures up 20 percent. More squad cars will have laptops with the data, including photos and addresses of potential suspects, in the coming months.

Officers will also know which members have outstanding warrants–or which ones haven’t paid child support or taxes–and quickly make arrests.

McCarthy acknowledged, at a news conference, that there is a lot of work to be done.

“We have seen time and time again where one event spawns another and another,” McCarthy said. “We’ve had as many as sixretaliatory shootings going back and forth in a four-hour period.”

The mayor said a large majority of the shootings are gang-on-gang violence. On Tuesday, he indicated he has been impatient. He called in McCarthy two months ago and ordered the police department to get in front of the violence.

“We have got to get ourselves on a proactive footing,” he said.

The strategy not only takes aim at the gang members themselves but also the businesses that Emanuel says harbors the criminal activity.

The city has revamped its enforcement of business licenses and will target liquor and convenience stores that Emanuel said on Tuesday are a “cancer” on gang-infested neighborhoods. Several of these stores are hang outs for gang members, officials said.

The plan also calls for greater coordination among police and other city agencies to arrest suspected gang members.

The city has now started to pull data from multiple agencies to build a case against liquor and convenience stores that have been the subject of complaints from neighbors. The idea is to take a more proactive approach to problem business and shut them down.

Since April, four liquor establishments have had their licenses revoked and their doors closed, including the Bishop Golden store at 79th and Bishop.

There, in late March, one person was killed and five others wounded in a gang shooting in the store. It was an April protest by Father Michael Pfleger that led to the closure.

Pfleger said he agrees with the city’s new get tough policy.

He told CBS2’s Mike Parker, “I can tell you which gang controls which store. And in fact, the store that was shut down at 79th and Bishop, the gang admitted to me that they used to keep their guns hidden in that store.”

Other stores are in the city’s crosshairs, including Vegas Food and Liquor in the 300 block of East Pershing Road.

Ald Pat Dowell (3rd) wants it shut down, and says it is a hangout for teenagers, and that outside the store, it is easy to find gambling and public drinking going on.

Store workers say the trouble outside is not the store’s fault.
“What goes on outside the store is not our problem. We are not the police officers. We go outside that door, we’ll get murdered,” a store employee said Tuesday.

The store manager, Ata James, agreed. He suggested that if anyone were the owner, “Can you do something about the business outside? Can you make these people not to walk, not to hang around in the street?”

In addition to the four stores already closed, Mayor Emanuel said 15 more problem stores are in line to be closed, and that 15 others are being investigated.

Pfleger said such stores are nothing more than “street offices” for the gangs.

A total of 30 business have been placed on a “watch list” as a result of the efforts. That means they will be the subject of increased city inspections from multiple departments, meaning additional violations will result in disciplinary action.

Tuesday’s strategy builds upon previous efforts to combat gangs, including putting more officers on patrol and the introduction of CompStat, which focuses on a statistical analysis of crime trends to fight violence.

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