Police video comment thread brings together cops, gang members and community

March 24, 2011

Top story: The police video piece that WBEZ published earlier this week caught fire last night and made the local television news. Every station covered Samuel Vega and Rob Wildeboer's story. Some gave proper attribution (Thank you, Channel 2) and some did not (I'm looking in your direction, WGN). 

CBS 2's story included a former gang member (and now youth counselor) to talk about the practice of "scaring kids straight".  Reporter Pam Jones did a great job of not demonizing the police and noting that this practice may not be as sinister as has been reported elsewhere.  The counselor did a good job of reiterating that point as well. But the main focus of the story was that this police tactic may not elicit the wanted response - and could actually increase, not reduce, gang crime.

At its heart, this story is really about policing communities, not police misconduct. It's about what tactics are most appropriate and most effective for police to use in combatting gang violence.

I will say this: the comment thread on the original story is FASCINATING. It has me in knots because I am the one who approves comments after-hours. I do it early in the evening and then once at the end of the night. Well, last night, I read about 30 comments after all the news. Police, gang members, neighbors from the community. It's a virtual town forum, and probably the only place in the city right now where all interested parties are openly discussing crime, gangs, and neighborhood policing. 

Eight Forty-Eight wants in on the action. To weigh in on this story or share your experience, leave a message with Eight Forty-Eight at 312-948-4848.  All messages will be subject to broadcast unless otherwise specified.

B story: NPR's David Schaper has a nice story on Safe Passage, Chicago Public School's after school  "watchmen" program.

C story: RedEye did a story today on how not to be a social media jerk. Although, to be fair, Gilbert Godfried didn't get fired from AFLAC because of Tweeting, he got fired for bad jokes. He's kind of famous for it. Remember when he did terrible 9/11 jokes days after the event? AFLAC hired him after that incident.  So really, Gilbert's a jerk regardless of his distribution platform.

D story: CPS has a $720 million budget shortfall. What I took out of this story? After Huberman's reallignment and reorganization to fill last year's shortage, this year's number is almost identical. From Linda Lutton's story:

"The hole is about the same as last year’s—which resulted in painful program cuts at schools, around 1,200 teacher layoffs, and frantic fundraising efforts at individual schools to pay for essentials like kindergarten teachers."

So all that to keep the status quo?

Weather: Did it snow last night? Wow. It's supposed to rain for the next couple days.

Sports: Boxer Floyd Mayweather tweeted that he put big money on the Bulls to beat the Hawks the other night and won. Big. $37k big....the Northwestern Wildcats were bounced by Washington State in the NIT yesterday. Oh yeah, the Blackhawks won last night too. Right now, they have the #5 seed in the Western Conference.

Kicker: Last week, Steve Dolinsky gave you the most overrated Italian restaurants in Chicago. Today? The best.