CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Police Department has been taking steps to make sure the city is safe this Labor Day weekend, and avoid a repeat of last year, when 13 people were killed and 52 were wounded in shootings over the holiday weekend.
Starting Friday night, an additional 1,300 police officers will be on the streets each day of the weekend in a bid to avoid the same level of bloodshed as last year.
“We’re making it abundantly clear that we will not tolerate violence in our city this weekend. Over the weekend, residents and visitors should expect to see a larger police presence throughout the city; on the lakefront, in parks, CTA stations, and on the city streets,” acting Supt. Kevin Navarro said.
Part of the department’s strategy was a six-week operation to get the city’s most violent gang members off the streets; 177 were identified and targeted, and 90 were arrested – 86 of them were charged with felonies and 61 of those arrested have previous felony convictions.
“We would certainly hope that the guys with the guns wouldn’t be getting out right away, but our goal is to just kind of pluck them off, and hope that we keep them in as long as possible, particularly over the weekend. So, that way, the communities can be safe for the families that want to enjoy the weekend,” Organized Crime Bureau Chief Anthony Riccio said.
Police said investigators are actively searching for the remaining 87 violent gang members on that list.
“If I was on that list, I’d probably try to lay low this weekend,” Riccio said.
Meantime, police said crime data from August shows a 45 percent drop in shootings compared to August 2016. Murders also dropped 47 percent.
Police said shootings are down 16 percent overall this year, compared to the first eight months of 2016.
“As we’ve said before, this is not victory. It’s progress in the right direction, and it’s showing that our strategies are paying off. It also shows that partnerships with the community, and our efforts to build trust are starting to take hold,” Navarro said.
Officials credited the department’s efforts to get more guns off the streets. Officers have seized more than 6,000 illegal guns so far this year.