CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s police superintendent said criminals view Cook County’s judicial system as “a joke” when it comes to holding gang gunmen accountable for their violence.
Supt. Eddie Johnson, at a Wednesday news conference to announce murder charges in the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old girl, said criminals simply have no fear of the system.
“They think the judicial system in Cook County is a joke. They just don’t fear it, and until we create that mental accountability to them to not pick up a gun, we’re going to continue to see this cycle of violence, and it’s just silly, it is,” Johnson said. “It’s silly on their part, but even more tragic is the leadership doesn’t listen. If you are in charge of these communities, and you have something to say, or you can do something to prevent this, and you don’t, then that’s a failure on you. Shame on you, because you should be.”
The superintendent said Chicago police have made twice as many gun arrests so far this year as the same time last year, but it’s not making a difference in shootings, because those criminals know they won’t spend much time behind bars.
“The most dangerous thing a police officer can do on a daily basis is arrest a bad guy with a gun, and we’re doing that double what we did last year, and it still doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. Why? Because if I’m a gang member, and I pick up a gun and pull that trigger, if I know I’m going to be out in six months, that’s a baseball season. I can do that,” he said.
Johnson again called on lawmakers to enact tougher sentencing guidelines for gun crimes, to keep criminals who are likely to repeat the violence off the street–and to make others think twice before committing a crime.
“CPD will continue to do our part. We’ll continue to go out there and arrest these guys every day, but we need the judicial system, our legislative partners, everybody, community members, everybody. We need everybody’s help in this. This isn’t just about CPD,”
Antwan C. Jones, 19, was charged with murder Wednesday in the shooting death of 11-year-old Takiya Holmes. Jones was known to CPD for crimes he committed as a juvenile, “which led up to his heinous crime over the weekend,” Johnson said.
Since Saturday, three children 12 years old or younger have been shot; two are dead and one is on life support.
“How many children do we have to lose?” Johnson said.
Johnson acknowledged there’s more to reducing the city’s gang violence than tougher sentences for criminals, but said there needs to be a “culture of accountability” for gun violence.
“I know that in these impoverished neighborhoods, we have to do a better job of giving it economic support, create more job opportunities, better housing, and more mental health treatment. I get that. Those are long-term solutions, but right now here today we need to let them know if you do this, we’re going to hold you accountable, and we simply don’t do that to the standard that we should,” he said.