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Plagued by violence, Chicago prepares for critical holiday weekend


By Christina Maxouris, CNN

As Chicago leaders work to address violence across the city, police said Saturday that at least 16 people have been shot — including six fatally — across the city since Friday.

A 39-year-old man was shot in the head while traveling in the back seat of a vehicle on Chicago’s west side and pronounced dead at a hospital early Saturday morning, according to the Chicago Police Department.

In another incident, a 40-year-old man was playing music when a neighbor in the same building made several complaints to the victim, police said. The victim responded to the front door of his apartment and engaged in a verbal altercation with the individual who allegedly shot the victim multiple times, police said. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

There have been no arrests in either of the two shootings.

The news comes a day after local leaders met in a nearly six-hour long city council special meeting, ahead of the holiday weekend that Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown called police’s “most challenging weekend of the year.”

The police department “is doing its part in historically unprecedented ways” to address crime, Brown said.

Brown briefed leaders on the department’s summer strategy, saying the department has used data and technology to identify areas of higher crime and analyzed where more officers are needed to “make sure we are operationally ready.”

But, he said, police alone cannot guarantee public safety. He said the department is taking a “holistic approach” by working with other city agencies as well as neighborhood leaders and grassroots organizations to reduce violence.

“We cannot arrest our way out of this,” Brown said, adding that the “best way to reduce crime is to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

But Alderman Jeanette B. Taylor criticized police leaders for not including more community organizations, churches and other stakeholders in conversations on how to address the violence and keeping them up to date with their summer plan.

“We’ve got to do a better job on having those conversations in January and all stakeholders should be involved. Don’t pick and choose who you work with,” Taylor said.

Chief criticizes electronic monitoring of suspects

Alderman Stephanie Coleman pressed Brown on whether the department is prepared this weekend to diffuse large gatherings and the crime that may result from them.

“Can you guarantee that the manpower is there?” Coleman said.

Brown said the department hopes to discourage crime over the holiday weekend by maintaining a strong presence.

“We are prepared,” Brown responded. “We have a large gathering plan that we had in place all summer in the Seventh District as well as everywhere in the city. Our plan is to take enforcement action when the law is violated early, earlier before the crowd gets out of control.”

“Is it perfect? No. There’s way more crowd gathering then we have the capacity but we try and direct our personnel, particularly on weekends like this weekend, to take action sooner before the crowd gets out of control.”

While addressing city leaders, Brown criticized the electronic monitoring program, an alternative to keeping pre-trial and short-sentence inmates in jail that instead allows authorities to track them while they’re in the community.

Citing statistics from the Chicago Tribune, Brown talked about the number of people on electronic monitoring who are committing crimes, including murder, domestic battery and carjacking.

“There’s an explosion of people on electronic monitoring that are harming our city. This is madness. Our courts are out of control. These decisions are harming our city, harming our children, our babies.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also talked about the potential dangers of releasing violent offenders pre-trial on electronic monitoring.

“Some of those people are dangerous,” the mayor said.

Lightfoot said besides electronic monitoring, she wants judges to incorporate community resources to help offenders who are released on bond and are awaiting trial.

“There’s a flaw in the system,” Lightfoot said. “We need to work together to fix it, but we’ve got to acknowledge that there’s a problem, because it is driving some of the surge in violence.”

Police conducting ‘aggressive hiring campaign’

Earlier this week, Chicago police released crime statistics for June, saying it had recorded the third month in a row with a drop in the number of murders across the city compared to the same month last year.

According to the numbers released by police, there were 363 shootings last month — down from 416 last June — and 499 shooting victims — down from 540 in the same period last year.

Shootings were up. Between January 1 and June 30, the city saw 1,515 shootings. In the same time frame last year, the city had recorded 1,377 shootings.

The number of shooting victims also increased. Between January 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020, the city saw 1,656 shooting victims compared to 1,880 over the same period this year.

During the special meeting, Alderman Anthony Beale criticized the police chief for cherry-picking the crime stats he reports, saying there should be a consistent formula for how they calculate whether crime is trending up or down.

He also asked the chief to reconsider the number of officers assigned to each district.

“If you were to look at the city as a whole … and look to where officers are, versus where they’re needed, you can decrease the number of officers where they’re wanted but not needed, and increase where they’re needed but not wanted,” Beale said.

The superintendent said they have worked to assign more officers to the districts that need them but said it’s a “complex problem.”

“I just don’t see in this room anyone that’s going to give you officers from their ward,” Brown said. “Everyone out here in this room says ‘we need more cops.’ So the rearranging of officers sounds great but you’ve got to work to navigate the labor contracts and navigate the political landscape of who gives up officers, who agrees to give you cops over their wards.”

The solution, the superintendent said, is an “aggressive hiring campaign” that the department is already conducting.

Lightfoot said she thought the meeting was very productive, adding, “transparency, I think is critically important.”

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CNN’s Chuck Johnston, Brad Parks and Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.

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