City of Chicago spending $1 million to hire ex-gang members

June 26, 2012

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(WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)
Chicago Police First Deputy Superintendent Al Wysinger announcing the $1 million dollar investment in CeaseFire on Tuesday.

The city of Chicago is spending $1 million hiring ex-gang members in an attempt to bring down Chicago's murder rate. The money will go to CeaseFire, a violence prevention program that hires former gang members to mediate conflicts and hopefully prevent shootings. The program received a lot of attention when it was profiled in the documentary film "The Interrupters."

In the past, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said he's not a big fan of CeaseFire, but in announcing the investment this morning, First Deputy Superintendent Al Wysinger said they're pushing forward, not focusing on prior disagreements.

“This is just one of the tools that we're putting in our toolbox to help tamp some of this violence. I mean the bottom line is what we both want to do is to tamp down the violence and the homicides,” said Wysinger.

CeaseFire plans to hire 40 workers to help prevent violence in the North Lawndale, Woodlawn and South Shore communities. They'll focus their efforts on young men with weapons charges who have recently been released from prison.