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New U.S. Attorney Signals He’ll Help Chicago Combat Violence

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Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) -- More than year after the departure of Patrick Fitzgerald, Chicago and the Northern District of Illinois have a new U.S. attorney.

Zach Fardon, a former assistant federal prosecutor under Fitzgerald, was sworn in Monday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports the feds — stinging from criticisms they haven’t done enough to help combat Chicago’s problems with violence – have effectively agreed to change their ways without acknowledging any failures on their part.

Fardon himself conceded there was an “elephant that’s been banging around the room all year – gangs and street violence.”

His boss, Holder, made this promise: “I’m proud to announce that the Justice Department will take significant steps  to increase our support for public-safety initiatives here.”

Fardon takes charge an office of big-game hunters that has sent four Illinois governors and 31 Chicago aldermen to prison. It’s that past emphasis on white-collar crime that has generated criticism from Chicago Mayor Emanuel, who has said the feds could be doing more to help reduce violence in his city.

Fardon, who has declined CBS 2’s requests for an interview, disagrees with that assessment. But Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor, says Emanuel has a point.

But it’s clear from Fardon’s comments Monday and recent meetings with the mayor and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy that violent crime will at least be higher-profile, if not a higher priority.

“What Mr. Fardon has told me personally is that he and I will sit down, and we’ll come up with a system to address the needs we need to address,” McCarthy says.

McCarthy says, despite murders and shootings down 20 percent from last year and Chicago on a pace for the lowest overall crime rate since 1965, he needs more help from federal authorities to continue to reduce inner-city violence.

Fardon recognized Emanuel, McCarthy and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez at the ceremony.

“We are your partner in this effort,” he said.

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