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CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk called on federal law enforcement officials to focus on fighting gang violence in Chicago, and to appoint an anti-gang coordinator to lead those efforts.
Flanked by local police officials from the city and suburbs, Kirk said the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should appoint a coordinator to help escalate federal efforts to combat big street gangs in Illinois.
“My hope is to have the full range of federal support – FBI, ATF, DEA – to back up the local team to lower violence in this area,” he said.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy noted Kirk has backed legislation to commit more than $19 million to anti-gang efforts in the area.
“Senator Kirk has made a bold and serious proposal to make violent crime a priority in our federal budget, and enforce the laws we have on the books already,” McCarthy said.
Kirk has sponsored legislation that would provide $19.5 million to expand anti-gang investigavie units, hire more prosecutors, enhance background checks for weapons purchases, and increase funding for the FBI and ATF.
The senator said he recently went on a ride-along with Chicago police in the Englewood neighborhood, and responded to a call where one alleged gang member was shot.
“One guy got popped,” Kirk said.
McCarthy said he was with Kirk on the ride-along. He said the wounded gang member survived the shooting.
Earlier this year, Kirk drew criticism by calling for the arrest of up to 18,000 Gangster Disciple members in the Chicago area.
Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush angrily slammed Kirk’s idea as an “upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.”
The two later reconciled their differences, saying their hearts were in the same place when it comes to fighting gangs, and Kirk offered to tour neighborhoods in Rush’s district and work with him to combat gang problems in the area.
“I’m going to be ready to be educated by Bobby because I’m sure he doesn’t want his communities to be the most violent in America where kids are being shot,” said Kirk.