City sending mixed signals about strike's threat to public safety

September 17, 2012

Download Story
(WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)
Former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis

The city of Chicago can't seem to make up its mind whether the teacher's strike is a threat to public safety or not.

A week ago, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy downplayed the importance of the teacher's strike on public safety saying policing would essentially be the same as when kids are out for summer vacation.

But in a lawsuit filed Monday the city of Chicago asked a judge to shut down the strike because kids are less safe and more likely to be victims of gun violence when they're not in school. (One of the legal reasons a judge could bring the strike to an end is because it has become a "clear and present danger to the health or safety of the public.")

Yet that legal argument seems to contradict Chicago Police department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton.  She couldn’t immediately provide crime numbers for last week but said there were not really any issues as a result of the strike. Nonetheless she said "kids are just safer when they're in school."

Former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis says kids going to school can actually increase violence. Interaction and fights in the classroom can spill out onto the streets. And Weis says the daytime hours tend to be safe times for kids to be out and about.

“The more violent crimes do tend to take place between 8 at night and 4 in the morning,” says Weis. “You know it's kind of unusual when you have a shooting or murder at 3:30 in the afternoon. Those aren't the peak times of the day for that type of behavior.”

Weis says the strike may result in an increase in burglaries. He says kids with nothing to do are more likely to wander around the neighborhood and notice open garage doors, or unattended homes and commit crimes of opportunity.