CHICAGO (CBS) — Interim Chicago Police Supt. John Escalante said the department has employed multiple strategies to quell a significant spike in violent crime at the start of the New Year – including the shootings of 16 people over an 11-hour period on Monday, including five homicides.

Escalante said he has put his command staff on notice that he wants to hear any and all ideas for quelling the gun violence that has increased on the streets, but he said it’s the easy availability of guns that is fueling the spike in shootings.

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“Of our murders this year, and we’ve had 41 murder victims, 40 of them have been murdered by a gun, or gunfire. So, I mean, that kind of speaks for itself, and it’s pretty consistent with what we saw last year,” he said.

However, with 41 murders through Jan. 25, according to the Police Department, Chicago would be on pace for 600 murders this year, the first time the city has had that many homicides since 2003. Last year, there were 468 murders in Chicago, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Escalante said the department has increased the number of so-called “violence reduction strategy call-ins,” a strategy the department has used for six years to directly engage gang members.

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“That’s bringing the gang members in, putting them on notice about stopping the violence, but also giving them the opportunity to take advantage of social services that are there to provide them some alternatives,” he said.

The superintendent also noted the department recently teamed up with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to target gang violence.

“We’re running some joint missions with them today and tomorrow,” he said.

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The new initiative focuses on gangs and gun violence in two West Side police districts, by better coordinating the efforts of the two departments and increasing visibility of police officers in neighborhoods plagued by violence.