WBEZ | homicide http://www.wbez.org/tags/homicide Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Anti-violence programs shut down as Chicago shootings climb http://www.wbez.org/news/anti-violence-programs-shut-down-chicago-shootings-climb-113266 <p><p>Captured in a documentary that brought national attention to Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;violence, Operation CeaseFire deployed former gang members and felons to intervene in feuds that too often ended in fatal gunfire on the city&#39;s streets.</p><div><p>Now that operation has become another casualty in the financial meltdown enveloping Illinois, even as the city still struggles to stop shootings.</p><p>Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner froze money for CeaseFire, featured in the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/interrupters/" target="_blank">2011 documentary &quot;The Interrupters,&quot;</a> as Illinois began running out of money because Democrats passed a budget that spent billions more than the state took in.</p><p>The program was cut off before receiving all of the $4.7 million it was budgeted last fiscal year, and it has gotten no state funding this year as the fight between Rauner and Democrats who lead the Legislature drags on and several programs in&nbsp;Chicagoland elsewhere in Illinois shut down.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/caught-middle" target="_blank"><strong>Hear stories of everyday people Caught in the Middle of Illinois&#39; budget impasse.</strong></a></p><p>Meanwhile,&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;has seen a roughly 20 percent increase in shootings and homicides so far this year compared with the same period in 2014. That included a July 4 weekend that left 48 people shot, including a 7-year-old boy who police say was killed by a shot intended for his father, described as a &quot;ranking gang member&quot; by officers.</p><p>None of those holiday weekend shootings occurred in two police districts covered by a Ceasefire-affiliated program that managed to fund itself for the month of July.</p><p><a href="http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/shootings" target="_blank">The same area saw nearly 50 shootings in August.</a></p><p>Operation CeaseFire supporters say&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;and roughly a half-dozen other current or former CeaseFire communities need all the resources they can get.</p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_136363581679.jpg" style="float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="In this Sept. 30, 2015 photo, Autry Phillips, left, director of Target Area Development in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, talks with area resident Justin Garner, 27, during a walk along 79th Street. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner froze funding for the anti-violence program Operation CeaseFire because of the state budget crisis, forcing Target Area and other organizations to shut down the program at a time of year when shootings spike. (AP Photo/Sara Burnett)" /><p>&quot;Our kids in our communities are still dying,&quot; said Autry Phillips, executive director of Target Area Development, a nonprofit agency on&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;South Side that had to end its CeaseFire program. &quot;We&#39;re going to do what we can do, but we need funding. That&#39;s the bottom line.&quot;</p><p>Even before the freeze, Rauner proposed cutting CeaseFire funding by nearly $3 million this year.</p><p>His spokeswoman blamed Democrats who have refused pro-business changes sought by the former venture capitalist and first-time office holder, such as weakening labor unions.</p><p>&quot;The governor has asked for structural reforms to free up resources to balance the budget, help the most vulnerable and create jobs,&quot; spokeswoman Lyndsey Walters said this week. &quot;Unfortunately, the majority party continues to block the governor&#39;s reforms and refuses to pass a balanced budget.&quot;</p><p>&quot;The Interrupters&quot; aired as part of the &quot;Frontline&quot; documentary series on PBS and at film festivals across the U.S. The film featured<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXmm0MZLGxY" target="_blank"> three former gang members working to &quot;interrupt&quot;&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;violence</a>, though programs using the model have been implemented in cities nationwide and overseas.</p><p><span style="font-size:9px;"><strong><em>The following video contains explicit language.</em></strong></span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SC1EOm4o_0A?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>CeaseFire uses an approach founded by an epidemiologist who argued violence should be attacked like a disease &mdash; by stopping it at its source. It&#39;s overseen by <a href="http://cureviolence.org/" target="_blank">Cure Violence</a>, an organization based at the University of Illinois at&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;School of Public Health. Researchers say CeaseFire has reduced gang involvement, shootings, and retaliatory killings.</p><p>But it hasn&#39;t been universally embraced. In 2013,&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Mayor Rahm Emanuel <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ceasefire-program-shrinking-due-funding-woes-108673" target="_blank">opted not to renew</a> a one-year, $1 million contract for CeaseFire programs in two neighborhoods. The decision followed <a href="http://www.wbez.org/despite-agreement-top-cop-not-big-fan-chicago-anti-violence-group-100027" target="_blank">criticism by&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;police</a> that CeaseFire staff weren&#39;t sharing information or working closely enough with them. Some program members also were getting into trouble of their own.</p><p>Today, programs are operating in six&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;neighborhoods. More than double that number have shut down in the city and in other Illinois communities, including East St. Louis and Rockford, because of funding cuts, said Kathy Buettner, Cure Violence communications director.</p><p>Target Area&#39;s grant was $220,000. Combined with another eliminated grant that helped ex-offenders leaving prison, the state dollars made up 21 percent of the agency&#39;s annual budget, Phillips said.</p><p>In July, Target Area used an anonymous donation to train several hundred people on how to prevent conflicts from escalating into violence. The neighborhood into which they were sent during the July 4 weekend saw none of the dozens of shootings and killings that plagued the city over those days, Phillips said.</p><p>The following month, when funding was gone and programs had ended, there were 46 shootings in the same area.</p><p>Inside Target Area&#39;s office, a large laminated map of the neighborhood hangs on a wall, dotted with stickers of various shapes and sizes that mark the locations where violence has occurred.</p><p>The biggest, red dots indicate the sites of multiple shootings. Phillips sees each one as a failure &mdash; a person his organization couldn&#39;t help.</p><p>&quot;I hate the dots,&quot; he said.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 12:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/anti-violence-programs-shut-down-chicago-shootings-climb-113266 Under Emanuel, more unsolved murders, fewer detectives http://www.wbez.org/news/under-emanuel-more-unsolved-murders-fewer-detectives-111750 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/rahmmccarthy_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>▲ <strong>Listen to the full story</strong></p><p>In his reelection campaign, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking credit for a <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/gradingrahm/#public_safety">slight decline in the city&rsquo;s homicide rate</a>. But a WBEZ investigation raises a question about the murders that are still happening: Is the city doing enough to put the killers behind bars?</p><p>Emanuel has allowed detective ranks to decline during his term even as internal police records show some of the lowest murder clearance rates in decades. Our story (listen above) explores those rates through the eyes of city detectives and a mother who lost her 18-year-old daughter in an unsolved case last October.</p><p>A few notes about the data (charted below): Regarding the detectives, the number on the payroll is down by about 19 percent since Emanuel took office, according to records obtained by WBEZ under the state Freedom of Information Act. The ranks of evidence technicians and forensic investigators have thinned by even larger proportions.</p><p>Detectives say the drops owe to regular attrition such as retirements and promotions. A police spokesman says the city is planning to add 150 new detectives this year. But they won&rsquo;t make up for the attrition during the mayor&rsquo;s term.</p><p>About the murder clearances, the department calculates the rate two ways. The simple way accounts only for cases closed in the same calendar year in which the murder took place. By that gauge, the police cleared 28.7 percent of last year&rsquo;s murders. The other calculation &mdash; the one preferred by the city &mdash; includes clearances of murders committed in previous years, leading to a 2014 rate of 51.8 percent. By either measure, the city&rsquo;s clearance rate is near its lowest level in decades. Chicago&rsquo;s also doing poorly compared to other big cities, according to <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-25/table_25_percent_of-offenses_cleared_by_arrest_by_population_group_2013.xls">FBI clearance figures for 2013</a>, the most recent year available.</p><p>Zooming in further, the term &ldquo;cleared&rdquo; means <em>closed</em> but not necessarily <em>solved</em>. In some cleared cases, the killer was not charged or even arrested. During Emanuel&rsquo;s term, roughly a quarter of the murder cases the police have closed were &ldquo;exceptional clearances&rdquo; because, for example, the suspect had died or fled the country or because prosecutors had declined to bring charges for various reasons, including a refusal by witnesses to testify. Last year, 42 of 213 clearances were &ldquo;exceptional.&rdquo;</p><div id="responsive-embed-clearance-absolute">&nbsp;</div><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/clearance-absolute/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script><script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( 'responsive-embed-clearance-absolute', 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/clearance-absolute/child.html', {} ); }); </script><div id="responsive-embed-clearance-rate">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( 'responsive-embed-clearance-rate', 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/clearance-rate/child.html', {} ); }); </script><div id="responsive-embed-investigators-line">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( 'responsive-embed-investigators-line', 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/investigators-line/child.html', {} ); }); </script><div id="responsive-embed-investigators-table">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( 'responsive-embed-investigators-table', 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/investigators-table/child.html', {} ); }); </script></p> Mon, 23 Mar 2015 08:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/under-emanuel-more-unsolved-murders-fewer-detectives-111750 Who cleans up crime scenes on Chicago streets? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/who-cleans-crime-scenes-chicago-streets-111055 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The audio version of this story is contained in the podcast episode above. It begins just before minute seven. </em></p><p>Peter Normand&rsquo;s question for Curious City begins with an unusual email he received on July 13. The email was from his alderman, the 49th Ward&rsquo;s Joe Moore.</p><p>The message referenced William Lewis, a 28-year-old photographer who had just moved to Chicago. Just one day earlier, Lewis had been killed by stray gang gunfire on the 1300 block of W. Devon Ave.</p><p>&ldquo;I happened to be on Devon only a block from the shooting and heard the gunfire,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.ward49.com/site/epage/153765_322.htm" target="_blank">read Ald. Moore&rsquo;s email to constituents</a>. &ldquo;I looked up to see the assailant, who appeared to be a teenager, continue to fire his weapon at a group of fleeing youths. It is something I will never forget.&rdquo;</p><p>What Moore wrote next saddened our question-asker and piqued a morbid curiosity:</p><p>&ldquo;Later that evening on our way to a neighborhood block party, my wife and I drove past the scene of the shooting and noticed that bloodstains remained on the sidewalk. We went to a nearby store to purchase some water, bleach and a brush to clean the sidewalk. By the time we returned, Milton, a resident of the building adjacent to the sidewalk, had already undertaken the grim task. We helped him finish the job.&rdquo;</p><p>Peter Normand, a 36-year-old architect and resident of the 1900 block of W. Morse, was moved enough to ask Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Who cleans up the blood on sidewalks and playgrounds after shootings?</em></p><p>We pressed Ald. Moore&rsquo;s 49th Ward office to explain the events he described in that email, <a href="http://chicago.everyblock.com/crime-posts/jul13-man-killed-devon-avenue-shooting-6253739/" target="_blank">which he also posted to the neighborhood web forum EveryBlock</a>. The office declined repeated attempts for any more information than what Moore provided in his online account.</p><p>Regardless, the story raises some interesting questions. For one, whose responsibility is it to clean up blood in the public way? And, if it&rsquo;s not done quickly (or, if it&rsquo;s left behind), what kind of risk does that pose for legal liability and for public health?</p><p>Through conversations with city agencies and private contractors, we parsed out the city&rsquo;s process for cleaning up after homicides and other traumatic events. And we found not everyone agrees the city is doing it the right way.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;Washdown&rsquo;</span></p><p>After the police department&rsquo;s detectives, forensic investigators and evidence technicians have finished investigating the scene of a homicide, they&rsquo;re directed to call for a &ldquo;washdown,&rdquo; according to <a href="http://www.chicagopolice.org/2013MayDirectives/data/a7a57be2-12946bda-6b312-9483-7cdab14bcdee3789.pdf?ownapi=1" target="_blank">Special Order S04-02</a> from the Chicago Police Department&#39;s procedure for crime scene protection or processing. The Illinois State Police follow the same procedure, a spokeswoman said.</p><p>A washdown is when the Chicago Fire Department sends an engine crew to blast the area with &ldquo;copious amounts of water [until] there is no longer any residue left behind,&rdquo; according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. While a very old crime scene might require the addition of disinfecting chemicals, he said, almost all crime scenes on public property are cleaned with plain water &mdash; albeit water blasted from a high-pressure firehose.</p><p>&ldquo;Even dried blood is a hard match for an engine putting out water at that pressure,&rdquo; Langford said. Police and other city agencies also call CFD for a washdown to clean other messes. &ldquo;It could be an accident scene, a drop of material on the street,&rdquo; Langford said. &ldquo;A truck could have spilled honey, and that would be a washdown too.&rdquo;</p><p>If the call for a washdown is considered urgent, Langford said, crews are supposed to show up within three and a half minutes.</p><p>If the crime scene is on private property &mdash; that can include Chicago Housing Authority or Chicago Park District holdings &mdash; it&rsquo;s up to the owner of the property to clean up. They usually hire private contractors, such as Aftermath Services LLC, a crime scene cleanup and biohazard removal company based in Aurora, Illinois.</p><p>The work often involves managing emotional burdens, as well as any physical legacy.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;What we try to do is take as much away from them so they don&#39;t have to worry about the physical clean up,&rdquo; said Kevin Reifsteck, Aftermath Services&rsquo; vice president. Sometimes the jobs include consoling bereaved friends and family members. &ldquo;When you really start getting down to specifically what we&rsquo;re going to be doing, I think that&rsquo;s sometimes when it really becomes a reality for the family.&rdquo;</p><p>Aftermath&rsquo;s work varies by job, which can range from a few hours of disinfection and carpet removal to weeks of biohazard cleanup. (<a href="http://www.abc2news.com/news/local-news/investigations/grief-stricken-customers-complain-about-high-bills-for-crime-scene-clean-up" target="_blank">After a series of complaints about pricing</a> between 2010 and 2013, Aftermath changed its policy to always give upfront estimates of a cleanup job&rsquo;s price, which can be thousands of dollars.)</p><p>But one common element among those privately-contracted jobs is that they use more than just water. Reifsteck did not want to comment on the Chicago Fire Department&rsquo;s practices without witnessing them firsthand, but another private contractor was blunt about the matter.</p><p>&ldquo;Calling in for a washdown is antiquated,&rdquo; said Andrew Yurchuck, board president of the American Bio Recovery Association, an industry trade group. &ldquo;It&#39;s not proper. If a private person did that they would be fined.&rdquo;</p><p>Yurchuck said many cities follow protocol similar to Chicago&rsquo;s, but he favors San Diego&rsquo;s approach, which is to hire private contractors like his for crime scene and accident cleanup. Private contractors often use absorbent booms and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect blood and other liquids, cleaning on site instead of washing blood into the sewer system. &ldquo;Rather than spraying and sending it out down into the river,&rdquo; Yurchuck said, &ldquo;we try to absorb it right there.&rdquo;</p><p>He thinks Chicago officials could be skirting laws governing the disposal of medical waste. We found legal and scientific reasons why that may not be the case.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityCopBlood-1 shawn allee.jpg" title="A stain on the sidewalk from a crime scene on the 1600 block of W. Morse Ave. in Rogers Park. While Chicago police have a washdown protocol for cleaning up crime scenes, our question was inspired by two apparent cases where the public took on the task. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" /></div></div></div></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Clean enough?</span></p><p>Langford said the Chicago Fire Department is under no legal obligation to sanitize city streets and sidewalks, which he points out are not sterile places to begin with. &ldquo;It doesn&#39;t make sense to disinfect a panel of the sidewalk,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If something is to the point that it&#39;s dangerous it would be a level one hazmat situation. We would send the hazmat crew.&rdquo;</p><p>But even blood, which typically merits a simple washdown from CFD, can convey diseases if not properly handled. The <a href="https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&amp;p_id=10051" target="_blank">Occupational Safety &amp; Health Administration</a>&rsquo;s Blood Borne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) recommends training and protective gear for handling substances like blood that could convey HIV, hepatitis B and other serious illnesses. Langford said firemen don&rsquo;t need special gear because they never come into contact with biomatter on crime scenes &mdash; they just blast it with water from afar.</p><p>Illinois&rsquo;<a href="http://www.ipcb.state.il.us/documents/dsweb/Get/Document-12277" target="_blank"> code for potentially infectious medical waste (35 Illinois Administrative Code 1420.102)</a>, which includes blood, instructs &ldquo;all persons who generate, transport, treat, store or dispose of&rdquo; such waste to use detergent and low-level disinfection techniques like bleach. But the code only requires those measures if the blood results from medical procedures.</p><p>&ldquo;Anything that&rsquo;s done in a crime scene cleanup is not diagnosing or treating humans or animals,&rdquo; says Beverly Albarracin, who oversees the potentially infectious medical waste program for Illinois&rsquo; Environmental Protection Agency. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not regulated as medical waste.&rdquo;</p><p>She says the public health risk is vanishingly small.</p><p>&ldquo;The odds of a disease lasting, for one thing, outside of a human body and remaining virulent or able to cause disease,&rdquo; Albarracin says, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s a very very minute possibility.&rdquo;</p><p>But what about legal risk? Scott Burris, a professor with Temple University&rsquo;s Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice, said while he hasn&rsquo;t investigated the issue in depth, it&rsquo;s &ldquo;hard to imagine a transmission happening accidentally or that someone could be consider negligent under the circumstances.&rdquo; The risks of infection are low, he said, although new fears of Ebola might change the equation.</p><p>Both federal and state representatives from OSHA and the Department of Public Health were unaware of any complaints against the Chicago police and fire departments related to crime scene cleanup.</p><p>That&rsquo;s not surprising to Dr. Carl Bell, a medical expert on youth violence and a psychiatrist at Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center.</p><p>&ldquo;Having lived in Chicago my entire life, it&rsquo;s very clear to me that Chicago is characterized by cosmetics,&rdquo; Bell said. &ldquo;And having blood or bullet casings on the street is not good. So they&rsquo;ve done a very good job of cleaning up after homicides. &hellip; I think it&rsquo;s always been the case.&rdquo;</p><p>As for taking steps to disinfect crime scenes before a washdown that could flush biological material into the city&rsquo;s sewers, Bell said &ldquo;it&rsquo;s probably not that risky,&rdquo; because most blood-borne pathogens are short-lived outside the human body.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s say the city doesn&rsquo;t clean blood quickly and community members pass by the scene. Is there potential to traumatize them? Dr. Bell says yes, but memory is complicated. Consider the<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-06-18/news/ct-chicago-murder-memorials-met-20140618_1_memorials-shrines-human-toll" target="_blank"> makeshift memorials that mark the sites of homicides</a> and car accidents across the city. These are odes to lost loved ones, but also a daily reminder of violence in neighborhoods where they are all too common.</p><p>&ldquo;Those spots are traumatic reminders for some people,&rdquo; Bell said, &ldquo;whether the city cleans up after it or not.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?&nbsp;</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker.jpg" style="float: right; height: 375px; width: 300px; margin: 5px;" title="(Photo courtesy Peter Normand)" />Architect Peter Normand lives in the same area, Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side, that sparked his question about crime-scene blood and who&rsquo;s responsible for cleaning it when it&rsquo;s on the public way.</p><p>Notably, he had two occasions to consider the question, not just one. There&rsquo;s the email from Ald. Joe Moore mentioned above, but he had also seen blood on the sidewalk for himself, just a few months earlier. &nbsp;</p><p>On the night of April 10, he was on the 1600 block of W. Morse Ave. and came across blood left from a shooting earlier that evening. He was surprised to see it the next morning, as he walked to work.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s where a lot of kids have to walk to go to school,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s less than half a block from New Field [elementary school].&rdquo;</p><p>Maybe the kids noticed the blood, or maybe they didn&rsquo;t, he said. He hopes few did.</p><p>&ldquo;Eventually it doesn&rsquo;t look any different than salsa spilled on the sidewalk, but it&rsquo;s not salsa,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Peter&rsquo;s accounts greatly informed our reporting. Among other things, his story about the April shooting suggested at least one example of where citizens, not the city, had disposed of blood on the sidewalk. (Officials have no record of clean up at this spot). His recollection of the location led us to the Hadima (she would only give her first name), who owns SK Food Mart. The shooting victim had bled in front of the store.</p><p>She remembers seeing the blood, too. She said she had a janitor in the building clean it.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to see blood in front of my store so I had to wash it out,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance reporter</a> and regular contributor to WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow him at cabentley.com and on Twitter at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank"> @Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 17:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/who-cleans-crime-scenes-chicago-streets-111055 CPD: Chicago on track for lowest number of murders in decades http://www.wbez.org/news/cpd-chicago-track-lowest-number-murders-decades-108262 <p><p>The first few months of 2012 were very violent, and gun violence in Chicago was often in the national headlines. The year ended with a little more than 500 murders. That&rsquo;s higher than the 450 homicide the city had each year for much of the last decade, but still much lower than the 1990s, when there were sometimes more than 900 a year.</p><p>Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says murders are back down from last year&rsquo;s rise and shootings are also down, which is important.</p><p>&ldquo;In a city where 85 percent of the murders are by gunshot, we concentrate on reducing the gunshots to reduce the murders,&rdquo; said McCarthy in an interview with Thursday.</p><p>The department says there were 231 murders in the first eight &nbsp;months of this year. McCarthy says that&rsquo;s fewer than any year since 1965.</p></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 18:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cpd-chicago-track-lowest-number-murders-decades-108262 Rockford records 14 homicides in 2012 http://www.wbez.org/news/rockford-records-14-homicides-2012-104646 <p><p>ROCKFORD, Ill. &mdash; The city of Rockford ended 2012 with 14 homicides &mdash; the lowest total in eight years.</p><p>The Rockford Register Star <a href="http://bit.ly/WXmmiK" target="_blank">reports</a> the total is a drop from the 20 homicides the city has averaged in recent years.</p><p>Police say arrests have been made in eight of 2012&#39;s 14 homicides. They also say eight of the year&#39;s homicide victims were shot to death, three were beaten, one was stabbed, one died in a car crash and a premature-born infant was found to have cocaine in its system.</p><p>Police say they don&#39;t know why the number of homicides fell in 2012.</p></p> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 09:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rockford-records-14-homicides-2012-104646 Aurora finishes 2012 homicide-free http://www.wbez.org/news/aurora-finishes-2012-homicide-free-104640 <p><p>AURORA, Ill. &mdash; Illinois&#39; second-largest city finished 2012 without a single homicide.</p><p>The Beacon-News <a href="http://bit.ly/XhUI49" target="_blank">reports</a> that Aurora was homicide-free last year for the first time since 1946.</p><p>The last killing reported in the western Chicago suburb was on Dec. 21, 2011. That&#39;s when a 21-year-old woman died in a domestic violence attack.</p><p>Aurora has struggled with gang violence in the past. The city&#39;s homicides peaked with 26 in 1995 and 1996. As recently as 2007, the city averaged more than one homicide per month. By 2011, Aurora logged only two homicides for the year.</p><p>Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas calls the turnaround &quot;amazing&quot; and says the city went through a lot to reduce violence.</p><p>Aurora had almost 198,000 residents, according to the 2010 census.</p></p> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 08:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/aurora-finishes-2012-homicide-free-104640 Violence, gangs scar Chicago community in 2012 http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-gangs-scar-chicago-community-2012-104620 <p><p>It was February, the middle of lunch hour on a busy South Side street. The gunman approached his victim in a White Castle parking lot, shot him in the head, then fled down an alley.</p><p>The next month, one block away, also on West 79th Street: Two men in hooded sweatshirts opened fire at the Bishop Golden convenience store. They killed one young man and wounded five others, including a nephew of basketball superstar Dwyane Wade. The shooters got away in a silver SUV.</p><p>In July, a Saturday night, two men were walking on 79th when they were approached by a man who killed one and injured the other. This shooting resulted in a quick arrest; police had a witness, and a security camera caught the shooting.</p><p>These three violent snapshots of a single Chicago street are not exceptional. It&#39;s been a bloody year in the nation&#39;s third-largest city.</p><p>A spike in murders and shootings &mdash; much of it gang-related &mdash; shocked Chicagoans, spurred new crime-fighting strategies and left indelible images: Mayor Rahm Emanuel voicing outrage about gang crossfire that killed a 7-year-old named Heaven selling candy in her front yard. Panicked mourners scrambling as shots ring out on the church steps at a funeral for a reputed gang leader. Girls wearing red high school basketball uniforms, filing by the casket of a 16-year-old teammate shot on her porch.</p><p>A handful of neighborhoods were especially hard hit, among them Auburn-Gresham; the police district&#39;s 43 homicides (as of Dec. 21) ranked highest in the city, and represent an increase of about 20 percent over 2011. The outbreak, fueled partly by feuds among rival factions of Chicago&#39;s largest gang, the Gangster Disciples, rippled along 79th street, the main commercial drag. That single corridor offers a window into the wider mayhem that claimed lives, shattered families and left authorities scrambling for answers.</p><p>The scars aren&#39;t obvious, at first. Drive down West 79th and there&#39;s Salaam, a pristine white building of Islamic design, and The Final Call, the restaurant and newspaper operated by the Nation of Islam. Leo Catholic High School for young men. A health clinic. A beauty supply store. Around the corners, neat brick bungalows and block club signs warning: &quot;No Littering. No Loitering. No Loud Music.&quot;</p><p>Look closer, though, and there are signs of distress and fear: Boarded-up storefronts. Heavy security gates on barber shops and food marts. Thick partitions separating cash registers from customers at the Jamaican jerk and fish joints. Police cars watching kids board city buses at the end of the school day.</p><p>Go a few blocks south of 79th to a food market where a sign bears a hand-scrawled message: &quot;R.I.P. We Love You Eli,&quot; honoring a clerk killed in November in an apparent robbery. Or a block north to the front lawn of St. Sabina church where photos were added this year to a glass-enclosed memorial for young victims of deadly violence over the years.</p><p>Then go back to a corner of 79th, across the street and down the block from where two killings occurred, both gang-related.</p><p>There, in an empty lot, a wooden cross stands tall in the winter night. Painted in red is a plea:</p><p>&quot;STOP SHOOTING.&quot;</p><p>Gang violence isn&#39;t new, but it became a major theme in the Chicago narrative this year.</p><p>Maybe it was because of the audacity of gang members posting YouTube videos in which they flashed wads of cash and guns. The sight of police brandishing automatic weapons, standing watch outside gang funerals. The sting of one more smiling young face on a funeral program. Or dramatic headlines in spring and summer, such as: &quot;13 people shot in Chicago in 30-minute period.&quot;</p><p>It was alarming enough for President Barack Obama to mention it during the campaign, noting murders near his South Side home. Then, addressing gun violence in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, he cited Chicago again.</p><p>As grim as it is, Chicago&#39;s murder rate was almost double in the early 1990s &mdash; averaging around 900 &mdash; before violent crime began dropping in cities across America. This year&#39;s increase, though, is a sharp contrast to New York, where homicides fell 21 percent from 2011, as of early December.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP804403038679_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 247px; width: 350px;" title="In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 photo, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Chicago. (AP File)" />Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says while murders and shootings are up, overall crime citywide is down about 9 percent. He says crime-fighting strategies against gangs &mdash; some just put into place this year &mdash; are working, but they take time.</p><p>&quot;The city didn&#39;t get in this shape overnight,&quot; he says. &quot;I think that we&#39;re doing ourselves a disservice by advertising a Vietnam-type body count. I&#39;ve got to tell you when I speak to people ... they generally say, &#39;You know what? We don&#39;t even hear that anymore. It&#39;s white noise.&#39;... The fascination unfortunately seems to be in the media and it&#39;s become a national obsession.&quot;</p><p>After the 500th homicide was reported, McCarthy released a statement saying the pace of violent crime had slowed since early 2012. Murders skyrocketed 66 percent in the first quarter of the year over the same period in 2011; by the fourth quarter, the increase had dropped to 15 percent, he said. For shootings, it was a 40 percent hike in the first quarter and 11 percent in the last quarter compared with 2011. The superintendent called the numbers &quot;great progress.&quot;</p><p>Up to 80 percent of Chicago&#39;s murders and shootings are gang-related, according to police. By one estimate, the city has almost 70,000 gang members. A police audit last spring identified 59 gangs and 625 factions; most are on the South and West sides.</p><p>Gangs in Chicago have a long, dangerous history, some operating with the sophistication and hierarchy of corporations. In the 1980s, the leaders of the El Rukns were convicted of conspiring in a terrorism-for-hire scheme designed to collect millions from the Libyan government. Before the feds took down the leadership of the Gangster Disciples in the 1990s, the group had its own clothing line and political arm.</p><p>Nowadays, gangs are less structured and disputes more personal, says Eric Carter, commander of the Gresham district, home to 11 factions of the Gangster Disciples. &quot;It&#39;s strictly who can help me make money,&quot; he says. &quot;Lines have become blurred and alliances have become very fragile.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP12061213939_0.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="In Chicago , homicides are up over 50 percent over last year. In some of the West and South side streets its guns, gangs and drugs. On a recent Saturday night the Chicago Police gang enforcement unit stopped a car with four suspected gang members and arrested one of them on a warrant. (AP File)" />Carter says a gang narcotics dispute that started about six years ago is at the root of a lot of violence in his district.</p><p>Another change among gangs is the widespread use of YouTube, Facebook and other social media to taunt one another and spread incendiary messages. &quot;One insult thrown on Facebook and Twitter becomes the next potential for a shooting incident on the street,&quot; Carter says.</p><p>McCarthy, who has consulted with criminologists, has implemented several plans, including an audit that identifies every gang member and establishing a long-term police presence in heavy drug-dealing areas, aimed at drying up business.</p><p>In two districts, police also have partnered controversially with CeaseFire Illinois, an anti-violence group that has hired convicted felons, including former gang members, to mediate street conflicts. McCarthy, who has expressed reservations about the organization, is taking a wait-and-see attitude.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s a work in progress,&quot; he says. &quot;It hasn&#39;t shown a lot of success yet.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>AMONG THE DEAD:</strong> An 18-year-old walking on a sidewalk. A 36-year-old at a backyard party. A 28-year-old in a car two blocks from the police station. A 40-year-old convenience store clerk, on the job just two months.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>In a storefront on 79th, Curtis Toler has a map of the street and surrounding area with 10 stick pins. Each represents a homicide in 2012.</p><p>Toler, a former gang member, spent much of his life causing chaos. Now, he&#39;s preaching calm. As a supervisor at CeaseFire, his job is to ease tensions and defuse disputes before they explode.</p><p>Violence, he says, has become so commonplace, people are desensitized to death.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think we take it as hard as we should,&quot; he says. &quot;When someone gets killed, there should be an uproar. But the ambulance comes, scoops them up, nobody says anything and it&#39;s back to business.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP12061213868.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="In Chicago, homicides are up over 50 percent over last year. On a recent Saturday night people residents strolled by as a young man was being arrested. (AP File)" />Toler&#39;s own life was shaped by guns and drugs. &quot;In the early &#39;90s, I was going to funerals back to back to back,&quot; he says. &quot;When you&#39;re out there, you think you pretty much got it coming. It&#39;s a kill-or-be-killed mentality.&quot;</p><p>As he tells it, he was in a gang (in another neighborhood) from ages 9 to 30, including a six-year prison stint for involuntary manslaughter. He was shot six times, he says; he lifts a gray stocking cap pulled low over his head and presses a thumb over his right eyebrow to show the spot where a bullet struck. &quot;I was blessed&quot; to survive, he says, with a gap-toothed smile.</p><p>He was once so notorious, Toler says, that one day about a decade ago his grandmother returned from a community policing gathering and began crying. &quot;She said, &#39;The whole meeting was about you. ... You and your friends are destroying the whole community. ... You&#39;re my grandson, but they&#39;re talking about you like you&#39;re an animal.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Now a 35-year-old father of four, Toler says he decided to go straight about five years ago. He knows some police don&#39;t believe his transformation. He regrets things he&#39;s done, he says, and for a time had trouble sleeping. &quot;Life has its way of getting back at you one way or another,&quot; he says. &quot;I believe in the law of reciprocity.&quot;</p><p>Toler&#39;s message to a new generation on the streets: I keep asking them,&#39; What&#39;s the net worth on your life? There is no price.... You only get one. It&#39;s not a video game.&#39;&quot;</p><p>&quot;You get some guys who listen,&quot; Toler says, &quot;and some who really don&#39;t care. ... They say, &#39;I&#39;m going to die anyway.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Two blocks east in another storefront on 79th, Carlos Nelson works to bring a different kind of stability to Gresham.</p><p>As head of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp., he lures businesses to a community that despite its problems, has well-established merchants and middle-class residents who&#39;ve lived here for decades.</p><p>But Nelson, a 49-year-old engineering graduate raised in Gresham, sees changes since he was a kid, most notably the easy access to guns. &quot;These aren&#39;t six-shooters,&quot; he says. &quot;These are automatic weapons.&quot;</p><p>Police say they&#39;ve seized more than 7,000 guns in arrests this year. Strict gun control measures in Chicago and Illinois have been tossed out by federal courts, most recently the state ban on carrying concealed weapons.</p><p>Nelson says he sees limited progress despite new crime-fighting approaches. &quot;The Chicago police department is a lot like a rat on a wheel,&quot; he says. &quot;They&#39;re getting nowhere. They put metal detectors in the schools but they don&#39;t put that same amount of money in to educate our kids.&quot;</p><p>But Nelson also believes the problem goes beyond policing. A cultural shift is needed, he says, to break the cycle of generations of young men seeing no options.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s almost like the walking dead,&quot; he says. &quot;They&#39;re emotionless about shootings or death or drugs. They think that&#39;s all that&#39;s expected of them ... that they will die or end up in jail. That&#39;s a hell of an existence. That&#39;s truly sad.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>AMONG THE LIVING:</strong> A 17-year-old hit in the leg, wrist and foot while in a park. A 13-year-old struck in the back while riding his bicycle, A 38-year-old shot in the face while driving.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>Cerria McComb tried to run when the bullet exploded in her leg, but she didn&#39;t get far.</p><p>Someone heard her screams, her mother says, and rushed outside to help her make a call.</p><p>&quot;Mommy, mommy, I&#39;ve been shot!&quot; Cerria cried into the phone.</p><p>Bobbie McComb ran six blocks, her husband outpacing her. &quot;I&#39;m panicking,&quot; she recalls. &quot;I can&#39;t catch my breath. All I could think of was I didn&#39;t want it to be the last time I heard her voice, the last time I saw her.&quot;</p><p>Cerria and a 14-year-old male friend were wounded. The bullet lodged just an inch from an artery in the back of Cerria&#39;s right knee, according to her mother, who says her daughter is afraid to go out since the early December shooting.</p><p>Police questioned a reputed gang member they believe was the intended target; Cerria, they say, just happened to be in the wrong place.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m angry,&quot; McComb says. &quot;I&#39;m frustrated. I&#39;m tired of them shooting our kids, killing our kids, thinking they can get away with it. ... If it was my son or my daughter standing out there with a gun, I would call the police on them.&quot;</p><p>A few blocks west, on 78th Place, another mother, Pam Bosley, sits at the youth center of St. Sabina Church, trying to keep teens on track. The parish is run by the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a firebrand white priest in an overwhelmingly black congregation whose crusades against violence, drugs and liquor and cigarette billboards are a staple of local news.</p><p>Bosley&#39;s 18-year-old son, Terrell, a college freshman and gospel bass player, was killed in 2006 when he and friends were shot while unloading musical equipment outside a church on the far South Side. A man charged was acquitted.</p><p>&quot;I think about him all day and all night,&quot; Bosley says of her son. &quot;If I stop, I&#39;ll lose my mind.&quot;</p><p>Bosley works with kids 14 to 21, teaching them life and leadership skills and ways to reduce violence. Sometimes, she says, neglectful parents are the problem; often it&#39;s gangs who just don&#39;t value life.</p><p>&quot;You know how you have duck (hunting) season in the woods?&quot; she asks. &quot;In urban communities, it&#39;s duck season for us every day. You never know when you&#39;re going to get shot.&quot;</p><p>In December, Bosley phoned to console the grieving mother of Porshe Foster, 15, who was shot a few miles away while standing outside with other kids. A young man in the group has said he believed the gunman was aiming at him.</p><p>&quot;I know how it feels to wake up in your house without your child, and you don&#39;t want to get out of bed, you don&#39;t feel like living,&quot; Bosley says.</p><p>St. Sabina is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Bosley sent balloons to the girl&#39;s funeral.</p><p>On Dec. 6, hundreds celebrated the A-student who liked architecture and played on her school&#39;s volleyball and basketball teams.</p><p>Her brother, Robert, 22, says his sister &quot;knew what was going on in the streets as well as we did,&quot; but he didn&#39;t worry because she was either at school, home or church.</p><p>&quot;She was always a good girl,&quot; he says. &quot;She didn&#39;t have to look over her shoulder. She was a 15-year-old girl. She didn&#39;t ever do any wrong to anybody.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>In March, St. Sabina parishioners, led by the Rev. Pfleger, marched through the streets in protest, calling out gang factions by name. They planted the &quot;Stop Killing&quot; cross on 79th.</p><p>In April, the priest and other pastors returned to 79th to successfully stop the reopening of a store where there was a mass shooting; they condemned it as a haven for gangs.</p><p>In December, Pfleger stood in his church gym, watching gang members hustle down the basketball court.</p><p>On this Monday night, in this gym, it was hard to tell who was who.</p><p>The basketball teams wore different colored T-shirts with the same word: Peacemaker. They&#39;re all part of Pfleger&#39;s 12-week basketball league, aimed at cooling gang hostilities by having rivals face each other on the court. Many players, from 16 to 27, have criminal records.</p><p>The league grew out of a single successful game this fall and has high-profile supporters, including Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls.</p><p>Pfleger says the games have helped players build relationships, see beyond gang affiliation and stop shooting each other, at least for now.</p><p>&quot;I have people tell me I&#39;m naive, I&#39;m stupid, I should be ashamed of myself working with these gangs,&quot; he says. &quot;I could care less. We&#39;ve demonized them so much we forget they&#39;re human beings.&quot;</p><p>But Pfleger also says games alone won&#39;t change anything. These young men need jobs and an education, and he&#39;s working on that.</p><p>&quot;When there&#39;s no alternative,&quot; he says, &quot;you&#39;ll continue to do what you do.&quot;</p></p> Sun, 30 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-gangs-scar-chicago-community-2012-104620 Chicago approaches 500 homicides http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-approaches-500-homicides-104594 <p><p>The last time the city reached the 500-homicide mark was in 2008, when the year ended with 512 killings. Last year, city records show Chicago had 435 homicides.</p><p>On Thursday, officials with the Chicago Police Department said the city was one homicide away from the 500 mark. Hours later, a 40-year-old man was fatally shot in the Austin neighborhood on the city&#39;s West Side. Police say Nathaniel Jackson was found on the sidewalk outside a convenience store with a gunshot wound to the head late Thursday.</p><p>The Cook County Medical Examiner&#39;s Office says Jackson was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital early Friday.</p><p>Jackson&#39;s death remains under investigation. No arrests have been made.</p></p> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 08:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-approaches-500-homicides-104594 Truth in numbers: Former gang members discuss the reality of Chicago's rising homicide numbers http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/truth-numbers-former-gang-members-discuss-reality-chicagos-rising-homicide-numbers <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Vice%20Lords.jpeg" title="(Photo courtesy of Bobby Gore)" /></div></div><p>Last weekend was a bloody one: More than 50 shootings were reported, nearly 20 percent of those were fatal. Summer after summer, Chicagoans are consumed by violence and a seemingly exponential murder rate. And, it seems, summer after summer, we talk about the need for whole families, better education, jobs and police boots on the ground&mdash;yet, the cycle continues.</p><p>Neighborhoods on the city&rsquo;s South and West sides have been hardest hit by homicides&mdash;the concentration of crime is typical; and while crime, overall, is down, homicides are on the rise. Last year, between January and May, there were 144 homicides; this year, there were 208. Last year, 56 of the 144 victims were in their 20s; this year, 103. These areas have been likened to a war zone. In fact, if it was a war zone, it would be deadlier than Afghanistan.</p><p>According to the Department of Defense and FBI data, 2,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001. During that same period of time, more than 5,000 Chicagoans were killed.</p><p>Estimates put Chicago&rsquo;s gang population at roughly 70,000 members. But experts say these once organized, structured groups have splintered. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the &quot;fracturing&quot; of larger gangs into smaller ones has doubled the number of factions and conflicts. And former gang member Benny Lee agrees&mdash;there&rsquo;s a total lack of accountability on the streets.</p><p>When Lee was a young leader in the Vice Lords, there were older members keeping him in check. Because even though he was running his own crew, the Apache Vice Lords, his Geronimo-inspired sect was still a part of the greater Vice Lord nation. But eventually Lee found himself in and out of jail. And each time he returned, his Austin neighborhood was a little worse. The older Vice Lords who kept him&mdash;and the community&mdash;in check were gone. And so were the resources.</p><p>Lee has tried to be a resource for the men in his family and community. He serves as a community liaison and reentry specialist for TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) and founded the National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated Mentor Program. He&rsquo;s also a professor at Northeastern University in the Center for Inner City Studies.</p><p>Lee has a lot in common with Eddie Bocanegra. Both men worked as violence interrupters with CeaseFire. Bocanegra was featured in the award-winning documentary, <em>The Interrupters</em>. Lee and Bocanegra joined <em>Afternoon Shift</em> for a frank discussion about the rise in violence, strategies to quell it and the realities of life as an ex-offender.</p><p>Lee&rsquo;s story is featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Hull House Museum: &quot;<a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/cvl/index.html#!Home/mainPage" target="_blank">Report to the Public: An untold story of the Conservative Vice Lords</a>&quot; opens June 22.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jun 2012 16:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/truth-numbers-former-gang-members-discuss-reality-chicagos-rising-homicide-numbers Campus Crime: What students really fear http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/campus-crime-what-students-really-fear <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2010-October/2010-10-27/keller pic_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The recent disappearance of freshman Toni Keller in the rural college campus of Northern Illinois University has created considerable anxiety for her parents, fellow students and school officials. Despite some high profile crimes, university campuses are thought to be relatively safe havens. And studies reveal that students themselves aren&rsquo;t concerned about personal crimes so much as theft of property &ndash; their iPhones or stereos. But shootings at NIU and Virginia Tech have prompted new approaches to crime on campus. A few years ago the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/">Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority</a> initiated a series of reports looking at campus safety. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ccj.siuc.edu/documents/VitaGiblin.pdf">Dr. Matt Giblin</a> is an Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Southern Illinois University. He co-authored <a target="_blank" href="http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/pdf/ResearchReports/Campus_Study_Final_Report_June2010.pdf">one of the studies</a> which surveyed six Illinois college campuses.</p></p> Wed, 27 Oct 2010 15:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/campus-crime-what-students-really-fear