CHICAGO (CBS)– About 5,500 gang members have been denied release from custody based on their own recognizance due to a police initiative launched in July aimed at reducing gang violence.

Chicago Police recommended that I-bonds not be issued to gang members charged with Class A, Class B, or Class C misdemeanors as part of an anti-gang strategy to mitigate retaliatory crimes, according to a statement from police.

Nearly 2,100 gang members have been denied I-bonds in Area Central; 1,800 in Area North; more than 1,300 in Area South; and 300 others members citywide.

I-bonds are also denied to arrestees on parole who are charged with misdemeanors or possessing a weapon, as well as those with outstanding warrants, the statement said. People charged with more serious crimes are not eligible for I-bonds.

“We are encouraged to see strong results in operations related to the Gang Violence Reduction Strategy, especially at the same time there is a downward trend in crime citywide,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in the statement. “We will continue to work strategically to combat gang-related murders, shootings, and general violence related to any gang activity.”

Police created the strategy to combat the rise in murders–434 as of Sunday night, equaling the total for 2011–and shootings due to gangs.

The strategy includes a gang audit and tries to identify gangs, their territories, and their propensity for violence.

“We are working very hard, each and every day, to remove guns, gangs and drugs from our city’s streets,” McCarthy said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)