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West Side Police Commander To Pay Visit To Possible Gang Criminals

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UPDATED: 7/19/2013 3:35 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — In their efforts to curb street violence, Chicago police are trying something new.

It’s an experiment that is being rolled out today in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side.

Austin District Cmdr. Barbara West will be knocking on the doors of 20 people, who police have identified as either possible future gunmen or potential victims of a gang-related shooting.

West will deliver letters that warn those people to avoid violence.

“It actually reminds them of their past, and it puts them on notice that we’re specifically looking at you as an individual who could be involved in violence or the subject of violence,” West said. “We want to offer you a way out.”

All of the people targeted in the letters are known by Chicago Police to be gang members, West said.

Police also plan to use this tactic after a shooting, warning people who might be thinking about retaliating and telling people they may be the target of such an attack.

“We’re telling them that they are very likely to be a victim of homicide based upon their lifestyle as it exists today,” said Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. “We’re encouraging them to change what they’re doing.

“A lot of these people are scared. They’re in a lifestyle they can’t get out of.”

One resident said the the people who received that letters might be stunned to learned they have been identified and may think twice before committing a crime.

“It sounds a little crazy, but sometimes crazy works,” said one resident.

Another resident likes the idea, but had some concerns.

“I think being proactive is good. I just worry about profiling people and what that can potentially cause.”

McCarthy said that wouldn’t happen.

“It’s not intrusive. It’s not threatening. It’s not something we’re doing outside the scope of the law, and the community supports it,” McCarthy said.

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