WBEZ | Katie O’Brien http://www.wbez.org/tags/katie-o%E2%80%99brien Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Michael Brown Law: Chicago's reception to cops wearing body cameras http://www.wbez.org/michael-brown-law-chicagos-reception-cops-wearing-body-cameras-111173 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/police_body_cameras.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The relationship between Chicago police and many residents has been tense and complicated for years. And for some, the events in Ferguson over the last few months have highlighted the tensions. Nineteen-year-old Shea was with other protesters outside Chicago Police Headquarters Monday night, waiting to hear the grand jury&rsquo;s decision. She said she doesn&rsquo;t trust the police, and feels like minorities in Chicago have targets on their backs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They put so much fear into people that we can&rsquo;t even trust them to even call them and say, &lsquo;Hey, someone&rsquo;s in my house, stealing something.&rsquo; We can&rsquo;t even trust them to do that,&rdquo; Shea told WBEZ.</p><p dir="ltr">Police are aware of the mistrust&nbsp;<span style="color: rgb(84, 84, 84); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: small; line-height: 16.5454540252686px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">&mdash;&nbsp;</span>they feel it too. When Supt. Garry McCarthy first came to Chicago, he offered WBEZ some historical context. McCarthy said historically, police have been a de facto symbol of racist policies in this country.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Slavery was written into the Constitution, segregation, Jim Crow, you name it. The point is it was the police departments who enforced those laws. That builds natural distrust and a narrative in that community that before we even step on the block, there&rsquo;s a natural distrust,&rdquo; McCarthy explained back in 2012.</p><p dir="ltr">Attitudes like Shea&rsquo;s are omnipresent&nbsp;<span style="color: rgb(84, 84, 84); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: small; line-height: 16.5454540252686px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">&mdash;&nbsp;</span>and that&rsquo;s why many Chicagoans are in favor of body cameras for police.</p><p dir="ltr">For a long time, residents had no way to legally document what the mistrust between citizens and police officers looked and sounded like. Illinois had a strict law against recording conversations without all parties&rsquo; consent. But that law was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court earlier this year--and now, there&rsquo;s an opportunity to write legislation that includes police body cameras.</p><p dir="ltr">Dean Angelo represents more than 10,000 Chicago police officers as president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge. Angelo said many of his officers aren&rsquo;t ready to buy into police cameras. After all, Angelo said, the work of police officers makes them suspicious by nature. He was one of several local law enforcement officers who gave testimony before a joint Illinois judiciary committee hearing.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our members sit in two camps: One is no. And the other one is, it&rsquo;s coming anyway,&rdquo; Angelo said.</p><p dir="ltr">But cops do like the idea of having an official video of record--instead of unofficial cell phone videos that can be manipulated.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I imagine that the people that are the proponents of the gotcha type of mentality with this environment of using body cameras are going to be extremely surprised what an officer confronts on each and every day of their watch,&rdquo; said Angelo.</p><p dir="ltr">Angelo added that &ldquo;a certain segment of the population&rdquo; has no respect for Chicago police officers. The benefit of these body cameras, he said, is revealing officers&rsquo; daily reality.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Eyes will be opened and you&rsquo;ll see what heroes you have on the streets every day. How tolerant they are, how professional they are and how good they are at their jobs,&rdquo; Angelo explained.</p><p dir="ltr">But Sean Smoot with the Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association worries that cameras won&rsquo;t capture the complete picture, or the whole experience of the street officer.</p><p dir="ltr">The cameras are about the size of a pager. They&rsquo;re usually worn on an officer&rsquo;s chest. They don&rsquo;t offer a 360-degree view--and there&rsquo;s no real depth perception.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We know from officers who are involved in critical incidents and frankly anyone who has a gun pointed at them, their eye, their brain immediately focuses on the barrel of the gun and what&rsquo;s happening on the sides or in the periphery, the brain doesn&rsquo;t process where a camera might,&rdquo; Smoot said.</p><p dir="ltr">And, Smoot added, a camera can&rsquo;t know when a witness or victim is feeling uncomfortable or overexposed.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think any of us want to see a YouTube video released of a police officer interviewing a rape victim for instance,&rdquo; Smoot said.</p><p dir="ltr">Local law enforcement agencies want officers to decide when cameras should be rolling. But with a history of mistrust and misconduct, that&rsquo;s likely a tough sell in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">State Rep. Elgie Sims raised questions about the merits of body cameras at the recent judiciary committee hearing. Sims represents Illinois&rsquo; 34th district, which covers the South and Southeast sides of Chicago and some surrounding suburbs. He said the district has some great police in the area--but there are also some bad actors.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had my own personal experiences with police officers where I know that if there were body cameras in play, the conversation and the interaction would&rsquo;ve been a lot different,&rdquo; Sims shared.</p><p dir="ltr">Sims said it&rsquo;s very difficult to have to explain those interactions to your children. He believes body cameras have the ability to curb bad behavior on both sides: Because there are folks, Sims said, who will make false accusations against officers. But he still wouldn&rsquo;t want to give one actor the ability to control the story.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If you have the ability to turn the camera on when it&rsquo;s the most appropriate for you, it puts a different spin on the story,&rdquo; Sims explained.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead, show the whole story, start to finish, he said, and lay out exceptions to the rules--like when it would be unsafe for the officer, a witness or a victim.</p><p dir="ltr">There are other concerns being raised by law enforcement and lawmakers. Questions about privacy protections and data storage. And, of course, the cost.</p><p dir="ltr">The cameras are between $800 and $1,200 each&nbsp;<span style="color: rgb(84, 84, 84); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: small; line-height: 16.5454540252686px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">&mdash;&nbsp;</span>but it&rsquo;s storing what the lens captures that&rsquo;s most costly. The New Orleans Police Department, for example, estimates it will pay $2 million per year to outfit 900 officers with cameras, and most of that goes to data storage.</p><p dir="ltr">When Illinois lawmakers discussed the issue, they&rsquo;d intended to bring up body cameras during the fall veto session. But as the political landscape has gotten more complicated, House Committee Chair Rep. Elaine Nekritz said she&rsquo;d be surprised if it came up in the veto session at all.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez" target="_blank"> @katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/michael-brown-law-chicagos-reception-cops-wearing-body-cameras-111173 Alderman says police overtime is main reason he voted against mayor's budget http://www.wbez.org/news/alderman-says-police-overtime-main-reason-he-voted-against-mayors-budget-111140 <p><div>Just four out of 50 aldermen voted not to approve Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s $7.3 billion budget for next year. 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack said the main reason he voted against it was unanswered questions about the Chicago Police Department&rsquo;s portion of the pie. More specifically, the department&rsquo;s growing overtime costs&mdash;and the lack of information on the expense.<p>Waguespack said over the last couple of years, he and other members of the self-titled Progressive Caucus repeatedly have asked both the budget office and the police department for more information on police overtime. And, during budget hearings last month, Waguespack directly asked Supt. Garry McCarthy for a month-by-month breakdown of overtime costs. The superintendent and budget committee chair agreed it was a request the police department could fulfill&mdash;but it didn&rsquo;t.</p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re just gonna vote yes, even though we don&rsquo;t know about $100 million worth of budgeting and specifics on it? That is unacceptable,&rdquo; Waguespack said. &ldquo;We actually have to vote on it, which really puts us in a horrible position.&rdquo;<p>Waguespack said he didn&rsquo;t receive anything from CPD or the city budget office on the issue before he cast his vote Wednesday. Waguespack also said he and others were mocked by fellow aldermen for asking about hiring more officers in lieu of spending millions on overtime. Other members of the council echoed the superintendent&rsquo;s stance that it would cost more to employ additional officers.</p>&ldquo;I found that pretty offensive,&rdquo; Waugespack said, &ldquo;especially when the police department superintendent himself could not provide details about how his budget worked from month to month.&rdquo;<p>Waguespack believes the lack of transparency on the subject shows that the police department is &ldquo;out of control&rdquo; in the way it&rsquo;s budgeting for overtime. In 2013, CPD budgeted $32 million for overtime but wound up spending over $100 million. This year&rsquo;s projected expense is $95 - $100 million, more than $20 million over what was budgeted.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;re providing evidence to the people of the city that shows they should be allowed to continue doing this,&rdquo; Waguespack said, adding that it&rsquo;s bad policy to carry on this way.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart.PNG" style="height: 172px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div></div><p>Waguespack was part of a group that last year supported an amendment to spend $25 million to hire 500 new cops to deal with violent crimes&mdash;but the plan was blocked in committee. Fellow Progressive Caucus member Ald. John Arena (45th) voted for that amendment too.&nbsp; He pointed out the trend to overspend on overtime during budget hearings last month&mdash;and asked Supt. Garry McCarthy if [the proposed] $71 million was going to be sufficient for next year?</p><p>&ldquo;You know what, alderman, I can&rsquo;t answer that...I really can&rsquo;t,&rdquo; McCarthy said. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t answer that next year we&rsquo;re going to do that much better. We&rsquo;re trying to knock it down. We&#39;re putting systems in place to do that, and slowly but surely I anticipate we&#39;re going to bring it under control.&rdquo;</p><p>WBEZ pressed the police department for an explanation as to why Waguespack&rsquo;s request was not fulfilled before the budget was called for a vote. CPD spokesman Martin Maloney wrote in a statement that the CPD receives numerous information request during the budget process. And that &ldquo;if any of these responses have not yet made it to the inquiring aldermen, they will be delivered soon.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><em>Katie O&#39;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez" target="_blank">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/alderman-says-police-overtime-main-reason-he-voted-against-mayors-budget-111140 Turn out for what? Will young voters make it to the polls, or stay home as usual? http://www.wbez.org/news/turn-out-what-will-young-voters-make-it-polls-or-stay-home-usual-111025 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Young Voters.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-66e03813-6290-1714-88ec-30ef0d92b54b">Cycle after cycle, voter turnout among young people trends especially low. For example, in the <a href="http://www.civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/The-CPS-youth-vote-2010-FS-FINAL1.pdf" target="_blank">last midterm election</a>, fewer than a quarter of eligible 18 to 29 year olds cast ballots.</p><p>OK, so we are talking about the generation that invented the selfie. But young people do care about more than just themselves; but, they say, no one ever asks for their input.</p><p>Eve Rips is the Midwest Director of the <a href="http://younginvincibles.org/" target="_blank">Young Invincibles</a>. The national organization works to engage young adults on issues like higher education, healthcare and employment. And it made a point of asking young people for their thoughts.</p><p>&ldquo;We heard a lot about skyrocketing tuition, about violence on the streets, we heard time and again from young adults whose peers had been exposed to violence and significant trauma. We heard constantly about high rates of youth unemployment. We heard from people scared about not living up to their parents standard of living,&rdquo; Rips explained. &nbsp;</p><p>And young people in Illinois, it turns out, are very happy to talk the talk&hellip;they tend not to walk the walk. A <a href="http://documents.mccormickfoundation.org/pdf/2012_Illinois_Civic_Health_Index.pdf" target="_blank">study on civic health</a> from the McCormick Foundation found that while a quarter of Illinois Millennials engage in weekly political discussions, they were at the the bottom of the pack when it came to voting regularly. Like, three from the bottom.</p><p>Democratic political consultant Tom Bowen said sometimes low turnout is a measure of the issues that are out there; certain groups are highly attuned to the issues that a candidate can appeal to.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not very many not very many messages about Medicare and Social Security that are going to entice young voters into the electorate,&rdquo; Bowen explained.</p><p>It&rsquo;s easy to see how it might be a struggle to make those particular issues sexy. Young people tend not to think about their retirement or long-term health until it&rsquo;s staring them right in the face.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the time what brings young voters into the electorate is they become parents and they care about schools. Schools are a pretty motivating local issue that tends to get people to pay attention to what their government is doing,&rdquo; said Bowen.</p><p>Campaigns are faced with limited time and resources -- and they have to focus on the folks they know are going to be there.</p><p>And, if we&rsquo;re honest with ourselves, young people -- Millennials like this reporter -- we&rsquo;re lazy. That&rsquo;s right, the most educated generation in history is sitting at home, avoiding joining the workforce because -- we&rsquo;re entitled narcissists. Or, at least that&rsquo;s the stereotype.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the same old song. But maybe if you could get <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rijpU5yD55I" target="_blank">Lil Jon</a> to sing it, while applying some good, old-fashioned peer pressure...junior would get off the couch.</p><p>According to political psychologist Jon Krosnick, social pressure is a very effective tool in elections. He said voter turnout is contagious.</p><p>&ldquo;At one level, participating in an election might seem like an irrational act -- because any one individual is certainly not likely to have any meaningful impact on the outcome of any election. But, in fact, each person&rsquo;s action can be magnified,&rdquo; Krosnick explained.</p><p>By voting -- and letting others know that you voted -- you actually increase the likelihood that other people will vote.</p><p>But pollster <a href="http://weaskamerica.com/" target="_blank">Gregg Durham</a> said the easier, surer thing &hellip; is to make a play for mom. &nbsp;</p><p>Durham said suburban women tipped the dead-even scales for Governor Pat Quinn four years ago when they failed to turn out for Bill Brady. And this year&rsquo;s governor&rsquo;s race is just as tight.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no group that they say don&rsquo;t worry about them, we can&rsquo;t get enough of them. If you have the wherewithal you go after every vote you can. However, you go after the low-hanging fruit first...and the young voter is a tough harvest,&rdquo; Durham explained.</p><p>According to Durham, if just three more people had voted in each precinct in 2010, Illinois would probably be talking about Brady&rsquo;s re-election.</p><p>Every vote really does count. And there are young people out there, trying to get their peers to the polls. People like Connie C. Luo, a field organizer with <a href="http://chicagovotes.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Votes</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s something like an intervention to the cycle of oppression, to the cycle of apathy, that systemically has prevented young people from raising their voice. And so, the best way to do that is to direct one-on-one intervention, by being out in the field, by targeting people who need to register, who need to vote the most...that way we can move forward,&rdquo; Luo said.</p><p>Chicago Votes has registered over 15,000 young people with its get-out-the-vote campaign this year, bringing their coalition&rsquo;s total to over 115,000. Parades to the polls have been planned to make sure that those registered actually make it to the polls on Tuesday.</p><p>If they do, it will definitely matter. It may even shape the future.</p></p> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/turn-out-what-will-young-voters-make-it-polls-or-stay-home-usual-111025 Standing in the gap: Parents in violent communities stress about keeping kids safe http://www.wbez.org/news/standing-gap-parents-violent-communities-stress-about-keeping-kids-safe-110670 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/kids.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Fifty school-aged children died so far this year in Chicago. And in at least <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/arrest-made-in-shamiya-adams-murder">one case</a>, the child was killed while playing inside a friend&rsquo;s home&mdash;a setting that most parents would think is extremely safe. But for many parents living in neighborhoods where violence is a reality, even the most benign settings can feel unsafe and out of control.</p><p>Parents worry. Most never stop worrying about their children. It&rsquo;s a parent&rsquo;s job to protect and provide for their child; to help them grow and develop as individuals. So when a parent&rsquo;s abilities are compromised by things out of their control, it can be overwhelming.</p><p>On the far South Side of Chicago, in Roseland, crime and violence add to parents&rsquo; worries. Parents bite their fingernails in the summer months, when idle time leaves young people vulnerable to dangerous community elements.</p><p><a href="http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/community/roseland">Fifty-five people</a> have been shot in Roseland so far this year; in the last month, there&rsquo;s been more than three dozen batteries and assaults in the neighborhood. The majority of the violent crimes in the neighborhood take place on the street or a sidewalk, which is why many parents say they&rsquo;re leery to send their kids outside to play.</p><p>James Brown, 44, keeps a close watch over his 12-year-old son Semaj. Brown says stories about stray bullets hitting innocent kids is a known factor in the community&mdash;and that the people pulling the triggers don&rsquo;t care who or what they&rsquo;re shooting. And so, Semaj isn&rsquo;t allowed to ride his bike unless his father&rsquo;s outside.</p><p>&ldquo;I just want to be out there...&rdquo; Brown explained, &ldquo;not saying I can protect them from it, I just want to be out there.&rdquo;</p><p>Brown wants to be everywhere when it comes to his only child. And he keeps Semaj very busy.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now, we playing baseball, then after baseball we play basketball...we play football. I have to keep him occupied..hanging out on the block is not an option at all, he knows that,&rdquo; Brown reasoned.</p><p>We. We play basketball, we play football: It would be hard for Brown not to feel like a member of the team, considering he goes to every game and practice.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard, it&rsquo;s hard...but I can&rsquo;t give my son to the streets. I can&rsquo;t give him to to the streets. I can&rsquo;t give him to people that act like they care but really don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; Brown said.</p><p>Brown cares; not just about his son but about all the young men in Roseland. He&rsquo;s worked as a high school football coach in the community for the last two decades.</p><p>&ldquo;I coach football to save lives. I don&rsquo;t coach to be popular to be liked, I could care less if you like me. But it&rsquo;s an option for kids...to change their life,&rdquo; Brown said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>But Brown felt there weren&rsquo;t any good little league options for his son in Roseland. So he spent the summer driving him to and from Englewood to play on its baseball team. His youngest sister, Victoria Harper Peeples, chose to do the same with her two boys. Both parents recognize the irony in taking their kids from one violent neighborhood to another to play little league.</p><p>&ldquo;People are immune to gunshots nowadays&mdash;as opposed to run for cover, they just sit there and act as if nothing happens&hellip;&rdquo; Harper Peeples lamented.</p><p>&ldquo;Well kids know &#39;hit the deck,&rsquo; wait for the shooting is over with and then get up and walk away. They know that. That&rsquo;s what we teach them. &lsquo;Cause you can&rsquo;t keep &lsquo;em in the house, you can&rsquo;t shelter them&hellip;&rdquo; Brown added.</p><p>Clinical psychologist <a href="http://www.uchospitals.edu/physicians/physician.html?id=6146" target="_blank">Brad Stolbach</a>, with the University of Chicago, has focused his entire career on children affected by trauma and violence. For nearly 20 years, he ran the Chicago Child Trauma Center at La Rabida Children&rsquo;s Hospital on the city&rsquo;s South Side. Stolbach said the constant, real threat of violence in communities like Roseland can be extremely stressful and disruptive.</p><p>&ldquo;If that&rsquo;s your top priority, is watching out and knowing when to hit the deck, it&#39;s very hard to attend to the normal tasks of daily life,&rdquo; Stolbach explained.</p><p>Moreover, Stolbach continued, parents really struggle when they feel like their child&rsquo;s safety is out of their control.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s just the way we&#39;re wired, especially moms, that protecting their children is a biological imperative. It&#39;s the number one priority in a lot of ways. And so feeling powerless to do that, can be not just frustrating but can really affect how you feel about yourself as a parent and as a person.&rdquo;</p><p>And when your kid turns out to be the perpetrator of violence...well, that&rsquo;s tough too.</p><p>Diane Latiker raised eight kids in Roseland. She described her parenting style as overprotective, relentless even.</p><p>&ldquo;I have four sons and when they were growing up, they were in gangs and I knew it. I mean, I tried my best to spearhead them other ways...I mean, I was relentless. But I had to get them away from here...literally, all four of them, to save their lives,&rdquo; Latiker recalled.</p><p>She sent the boys to live with their father in a nearby suburban Bellwood. She thought her worries were nearly over when her youngest daughter was about 13. She could almost see the finish line&mdash;her days of worrying about kids hanging out around the neighborhood were numbered. But it was around that time when Latiker realized, it wasn&rsquo;t just her kids who needed looking after.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;My mom worked; so when I came home from school, the block watched me when my mom was gone. Someone would see me out on the street and say, &lsquo;What are you doing Diane? Where you going Diane? Shouldn&rsquo;t you be in the house?&rsquo; So, you know, I never asked where their parents were or why they weren&rsquo;t doing...I just wanted to know what I could do to help fill in,&rdquo; she remembered.</p><p>Her foundation, <a href="http://www.kobchicago.org/">Kids Off the Block</a>, began with 10 of her daughter&#39;s friends. She invited them into her home and encouraged them to safely explore their interests and potential. Soon there were scores of kids in her living room and off the street. The kids no longer gather in her home, Latiker acquired a space next door. And while the network and foundation has grown, Latiker says the sense of community she remembers from her youth, or the &ldquo;neighbor - hood&rdquo; as she calls it, is still noticeably absent.</p><p>Latiker isn&rsquo;t the only person who thinks so.</p><p>Robert Douglas grew up in Roseland, on 114th and Prairie, in the late 80s and early 90s when the murder rate was double what it is today. Still, Douglas said he felt safer back then.</p><p>&ldquo;We had these backyards, right? That&rsquo;s where the neighbors got to know each other...now, they can&rsquo;t sit on the porch to get a breeze...because of the violence,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>Douglas was a self-described &ldquo;gym rat&rdquo; growing up, which kept him out of trouble...for a while. But then his oldest brother was killed by gun violence.</p><p>&ldquo;My oldest brother was like...daddy. When he left, it was like...you know, hungry...where do we turn now?&rdquo; Douglas recalled.</p><p>Douglas never imagined what that kind of loss might feel like.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t know what it&rsquo;s like until you&rsquo;re burying someone to gun violence. You wouldn&rsquo;t...you could never imagine it,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>He never imagined his response would be to turn to the streets. Douglas said the temptation was unavoidable.</p><p>&ldquo;Violence came to my front door,&rdquo; Douglas began. He rapped a few friendly but firm knocks onto the surface in front of him as he remembered his journey to a life of crime and violence. &ldquo;[Violence] said, &lsquo;Bob, what&rsquo;s up?&rsquo; And I opened the door and I went outside and I played.&rdquo;</p><p>Douglas doesn&rsquo;t want the same fate waiting for his children outside their door...no gangs, no drugs, no violence...none of it.</p><p>&ldquo;Ain&rsquo;t no way in the world I&rsquo;m gonna allow that to happen...and I&rsquo;m not moving out of Roseland. My wife want to go so bad...and she right...my children don&rsquo;t deserve it...they deserve better,&rdquo; Douglas said.</p><p>But Stolbach said it&rsquo;s important to understand that the idea of &ldquo;stopping the violence,&rdquo; is a fantasy until the reality of what causes it&mdash;poverty&mdash;is addressed.</p><p>&ldquo;If we continue to look at how horrible it is but that doesn&rsquo;t result in us trying to change what we&rsquo;re doing about it...that can be demoralizing,&quot; Stolbach explained.</p><p>But when parks and playgrounds are considered an unsafe place to play, when jobs and resources are limited, when neighbors have stopped looking out for one another, giving your kids better is hard.</p><p>And mom Harper Peeples said, it&rsquo;s already pretty tough.</p><p>&ldquo;We like superheroes for our children. Our kids look at us and be like, &lsquo;nothing goes wrong, we don&rsquo;t have any problems, we don&rsquo;t have any worries...&rsquo; But we be stressed out just trying to make sure, did I put them in the right school, did I let &lsquo;em hang with the right friends, did I put him on the right baseball team? There&rsquo;s just so many things that we have to do as parents, and we always put on the spotlight. I mean, it&rsquo;s no chance that mom or dad could make a mistake. We have to be almost like perfect individuals, at least in the sight of our children.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/standing-gap-parents-violent-communities-stress-about-keeping-kids-safe-110670 FDA approves heroin overdose antidote http://www.wbez.org/news/fda-approves-heroin-overdose-antidote-109977 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ODawarenesst-shirt.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Food and Drug Administration has <a href="http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm391465.htm" target="_blank">approved</a> an easy-to-use device that delivers a life-saving antidote for suspected heroin overdoses.</p><p>Naloxone is usually administered by syringe in ambulances or emergency rooms. Kathie Kane-Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy and Roosevelt University, has long advocated for the antidote to be more readily available.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When your house is burning down, you don&rsquo;t think about why your house is burning down, you don&rsquo;t think about why is the house burning down, you get the people out of the house,&rdquo; Kane-Willis said.</p><p><br />Once turned on, the device, called Evzio, provides verbal instructions. It&rsquo;s similar to how non-medical personnel use defibrillators to help people who collapse from cardiac arrest. Evzio is about the size of a credit card.</p><p>The FDA&rsquo;s recent Naloxone approval means doctors could prescribe it for family members or caregivers to keep on hand, in a pocket or a medicine cabinet.</p><p>The FDA cautioned that the antidote is not a substitute for immediate medical care.</p><p>The drug manufacturer said it&rsquo;s too soon to estimate the antidote&rsquo;s cost.</p><p>Opioid-related drugs--painkillers such as oxycodone and Vicodin or heroin--are proving more popular and lethal. The FDA says 16,000 people die every year due to opioid-related overdoses, and that drug overdose deaths are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle crashes.</p><p><em>WBEZ and the Chicago Reader explored the pathways through which heroin enters and impacts our community in its joint series, &quot;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/heroin-llc-chicago-is-heroin?in=wbez/sets/heroin-llc">Heroin, LLC</a>.&quot;</em><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/17095202&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez"> @katieobez</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/fda-approves-heroin-overdose-antidote-109977 Northwestern University football union hearings begin http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-university-football-union-hearings-begin-109693 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/nu.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>The National Labor Relations Board in Chicago held the first in a series of hearings Wednesday to consider whether college football players qualify as employees. Players from Northwestern University filed a union election petition with the board last month. If approved--and later elected to represent the interests of the team&rsquo;s scholarship players--the College Athletes Players Association would be the first labor union of its kind.</p><p>Unlike their professional counterparts, college athletes don&rsquo;t have contracts--they can&rsquo;t negotiate the terms of their tenure. And athletic scholarships are regulated by the NCAA. Studies show that athletes often spend up to 40 hours a week on their sport; they travel for their sport. Oftentimes, players are told when and where to be and what to eat. But Northwestern says it&rsquo;s all part of the overall academic experience.</p><p>University officials contend that students who participate in NCAA Division I sports, including those who receive athletic scholarships, are students, first and foremost.</p><p>Bob, Rowley, director of media relations for the university, spoke to reporters after Wednesday&rsquo;s brief preliminary hearing. He said scholarships are intended to provide for a student&rsquo;s educational experience, even if they&rsquo;re athletic. CAPA attorneys saw things differently.</p><p>Revenue generated by Division I FBS and men&rsquo;s basketball is estimated to be in the billions. CAPA said it is focused on those players because they believe they can make the case that the scholarships are, in essence, compensation.</p><p>&rdquo;If they don&rsquo;t play football, they don&rsquo;t receive the aid...the idea that somehow this is a gift to them, is untrue...if you don&rsquo;t play football, you don&rsquo;t get the scholarship,&rdquo; CAPA attorney John Adam explained.</p><p>Northwestern maintained that the university does not regard, and has never regarded, its football program as a commercial enterprise.</p><p>The key question went unanswered--but it will no doubt be taken up, picked apart and rehashed over three days of testimony before the board next week.</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez"> @katieobez</a></em></p></p> Wed, 12 Feb 2014 18:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-university-football-union-hearings-begin-109693 DuPage County tries to keep drug users out of jail http://www.wbez.org/news/dupage-county-tries-keep-drug-users-out-jail-109407 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LEAD1.jpg" title="Legislators attend a summit on heroin, this time at Elmhurst College (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p>Prescription painkillers are often a pathway to heroin. A <a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1308215815.aspx" target="_blank">recent federal report</a> found that four out of five new heroin users had previously used illicit pain pills.</p><p>That&#39;s how Nick Gore got hooked.</p><p>Gore said his childhood in suburban Bartlett -- 35 miles west of Chicago -- was normal. But in his early 20s, Gore developed a boulder-sized kidney stone that required multiple surgeries. And prescriptions to deal with the pain.</p><p>After a couple stints in detox -- and a couple in jail -- Gore took his first trip to rehab where he met a woman, a heroin addict.&nbsp; Soon, they started to date; he&nbsp;took her to a concert downtown and before he knew it, they were on the West Side of Chicago.<br /><br />&quot;We got off at Cicero and before I knew it, we not only bought our first bag of dope but we were snorting it,&rdquo; Gore recalled. &quot;It made me so sick, just throwing up. And I was itchy and disgusted but I got that warm feeling, like I was invincible...that euphoria that they talk about. And I wasn&#39;t addicted the first time I did heroin -- but I was hooked. It just hooked me.&rdquo;</p><p>Soon, the nice hockey star from Bartlett was a twice-convicted felon. Gore stole to feed his habit, to continue chasing that first high. But he said he didn&#39;t feel much of anything -- just sick, cycling in and out of withdrawal -- until his second trip to rehab.</p><p>For the first time in his life, Gore said he started to feel things.</p><p>&quot;I was being honest and it killed me, I was being honest about all the stupid shit I did and it killed me. Brought a lot more chaos into my life than into anyone else&#39;s because I took a butcher knife and decided to cut my Achilles tendon cause I just needed to feel something,&rdquo; Gore said.</p><p>Now two years into his recovery, Gore doesn&#39;t want to see anyone else get caught up in the heroin cycle. He said he&#39;d consider it a win if he can stop one person from trying heroin. So he shares his story at heroin summits in the western suburbs.&nbsp;</p><p>DuPage County Coroner <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/coroner/">Dr. Richard Jorgensen</a> said the fight to stop the spread of heroin use has been a losing battle for much of the community. Forty-three people have died so far this year as a result of heroin, and Jorgensen said there are at least three other suspected cases, pending toxicology reports.&nbsp;</p><p>Jorgensen analyzed the last two years of heroin-related deaths -- the period when the numbers jumped well above the annual average. In 2012, there were 38 deaths, a dozen more than the previous five years. Jorgensen looked for a pattern, an explanation, perhaps a hot spot.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;There&#39;s not one town or one city that predominates the statistics, we don&#39;t have one area or one socioeconomic group that predominates. It&#39;s not the poor kids from here or the rich kids from there it&#39;s really all over DuPage County,&rdquo; Jorgensen said.</div><p>Jorgensen said if heroin users don&#39;t end up in the morgue, they will probably end up across the street with DuPage County State&#39;s Attorney <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/statesattorney/">Bob Berlin</a>. That&#39;s why the two teamed up to spread awareness. They hold forums anywhere they&#39;re welcome: at schools, at local hospitals and community centers.</p><p>But Berlin said that getting people to show up and listen has been a struggle.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re dealing with the &lsquo;not my kid syndrome.&#39; Many parents unfortunately hear about heroin and they take the position &lsquo;Well geeze, it&#39;s not my kid, I don&#39;t have to worry about this.&#39; And we&#39;re trying to tell them it may not be your kid today but that doesn&#39;t mean it that it might not happen tomorrow,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>Berlin said he isn&#39;t interested in sending addicts to jail.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ODawarenesst-shirt.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Hundreds of people turned out for this Overdose Awareness rally in August. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p>&quot;Someone who&#39;s an addict, they&#39;re stealing money to support their habit, putting them in prison for a year or two years where they&#39;ll serve half the time and get out doesn&#39;t really solve the problem because they continue to do the same things if you don&#39;t treat the drug addiction,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>Non-violent defendants are still prosecuted for a felony but they&#39;re not incarcerated. They get counseling and regular drug tests. And if they complete the program, they&#39;re less likely to reappear in the criminal justice system. <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/courts/drug_court/2215/">DuPage County&#39;s drug court</a> is one of the most successful programs of its kind in the area. The typical rate of recidivism for felons is about 30 percent within three years. For drug court grads, it&#39;s eight percent.</p><p>But when it comes to drug dealers in DuPage County, the state&#39;s attorney takes a hardline approach. There is no drug court and no breaks.</p><p>&quot;We are aggressively prosecuting those people that peddle the poison in our community,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>To Berlin, there is a clear, black-and-white difference between a user and a seller; but to Roosevelt University drug policy researcher <a href="http://www.roosevelt.edu/CAS/CentersAndInstitutes/IMA/Leadership.aspx">Kathie Kane-Willis</a> it&#39;s gray and problematic.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KKW.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Kathie Kane-Willis speaks at an Overdose Awareness Rally in August at Roosevelt University's Schaumburg campus." /></div><p>Oftentimes, she said, both are heroin dependent and both will engage in acquisitive crimes that enable them to buy drugs. And to avoid withdrawal. Kane-Willis hasn&#39;t just researched this issue, she lived it as a former heroin user.</p><p>&quot;There were many times that I was delivering drugs because I was the one who had the time to cop drugs and so I would buy them and people would give me money, and I would give them the drugs; that&#39;s distribution, that&#39;s a sales offense. So was I a drug seller when I did that or was I a drug user or was I both? I was drug dependent,&quot; Kane-Willis said.</p><p>She said law enforcement is sending dependents mixed messages. On the one hand, they&#39;ll say it&#39;s not a problem that society can arrest its way out of. On the other hand, anyone caught selling drugs can expect a stiff penalty and some jail time.</p><p>The potential punishment can be especially harsh for anyone found to have supplied a fatal dose of heroin. In DuPage County, the charge is drug-induced homicide, a Class-X felony that carries up to 30 years in prison.</p><p>DuPage County has three-such cases pending. Nineteen-year-old Nolan McMahon was charged this past summer in the death of a 15-year-old Bartlett High School student. McMahon is accused of delivering the heroin that the other teen ingested before overdosing in his parents&#39; home.</p><p>Dealers bear responsibility in these deaths, according to Berlin.</p><p>&quot;The drug dealers know how dangerous these drugs are and how strong they are&hellip;and they need to be held accountable for what happens when people use these drugs and die, it&#39;s that simple. And that&#39;s the risk that they take,&quot; Berlin said.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pie%20heroin.PNG" style="height: 256px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="" /></p><p>But Kane-Willis said there&#39;s a greater and deadlier risk associated with the charge.</p><p>&quot;I think every drug-induced homicide charge that is made sends a ripple through the using community to not call 911 and might result in somebody else&#39;s death,&rdquo; Kane-Willis said.</p><p><a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1701&amp;GAID=11&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;SessionID=84&amp;GA=97">Illinois&#39;s Good Samaritan Law</a> protects anyone from prosecution for possession if that person has fewer than three grams of heroin and, in good faith, calls 911 to save the life of someone who has overdosed.</p><p>If the overdose victim cannot be revived, the law does not provide protection from a drug-induced homicide charge.</p><p>Kane-Willis said the general perception of the relationship between a user and a seller is misunderstood.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not what people think; there&#39;s not someone lurking around the corner trying to sell you heroin...that&#39;s not what heroin use and purchasing looks like,&rdquo; she said. &quot;Generally, people are seeking it out, they&#39;re drug dependent; and to provide drugs to someone who is in withdrawal, I&#39;ll say this from my own personal point of view, is not an evil thing to do, it&#39;s an act of mercy. And so I think some of these cases, these are merciful people who are being charged with murder, and that&#39;s just wrong.&rdquo;</p><p>Kane-Willis said it&#39;s important to understand that the victim and the perpetrator are very much the same kind of people.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z5OJBBaoBP4k.kUgUKWvKtdDs" name="dupagechart" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-12-19%20at%205.51.58%20AM.png" style="height: 327px; width: 620px;" title="Map of 2013 heroin deaths by community in DuPage County. Click to view larger map." /></a></div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2012.PNG" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2013%20dupage.PNG" title="" /></div></div><p><em>Katie O&#39;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 11:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/dupage-county-tries-keep-drug-users-out-jail-109407 Restoring Roseland: Confronting violence with peaceful practices http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/restoring-roseland-confronting-violence-peaceful-practices-106651 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/130412_Restorative Justice 1_ko.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than 500 homicides were reported in the city of Chicago last year: 361 of the victims were African-American males; 220 were between the ages of 15 and 24.</p><p>In the fall of 2009, Christian Fenger High School became national news after violence took one of its own. A short while later, the school implemented a program that aims to squash America&rsquo;s culture of violence. It&rsquo;s called restorative justice, and for Fenger, it came after a particularly gruesome death.</p><p>One September afternoon, a fight stemming from an earlier gang-related shooting erupted just blocks from the school. Amateur video of the mob-like brawl showed dozens of people hurling punches, kicks, bottles and bricks at one another. Sophomore Derrion Albert was killed. He was the third Chicago Public School student killed, just a few weeks into the school year.</p><p>Senior Gerald Banks was a class behind Albert. He remembered always being on edge his freshman year. Banks recalled news cameras parked outside of the school every morning and fights every day.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody had their backs turned, making sure nobody was going to swing,&rdquo; Banks remembered.</p><p>Fenger&#39;s Culture and climate specialist Robert Spicer arrived at the school just two weeks before Albert&rsquo;s death. He referred to Albert&rsquo;s death as rock bottom, noting that the school had well over 375 arrests that year.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of these young people out here shooting and do all that stuff, they don&rsquo;t want to do this,&quot; Spicer explained.&nbsp;&quot;They don&rsquo;t want to carry a gun. But they feel forced to&mdash;because they feel like nobody out here is going to protect them so they have to protect themselves. So the only way they can be heard and respected is if they carry a gun. That&rsquo;s terrible.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Fenger needed a new approach&mdash;which is exactly what Spicer was brought there to do; and so he started implementing restorative justice.</p><p>Restorative justice is a philosophy that centers around relationships and trust. It seeks to address the needs of the victim, the wrongdoer and the community. It&rsquo;s also about healing: dressing the wounds many of these children leave raw and bare. The ones that eat at them until they&rsquo;re overcome.&nbsp;</p><p>He saw an opportunity for Fenger to be the game changers to, as he put it, &ldquo;show our society that it&rsquo;s possible to go into an urban environment, introduce these practices and be able to bring civility and sanity back into that school, any school.&rdquo;</p><p>Part of this process takes place in the peace room, just down the hall from the Fenger&rsquo;s main office. There, on the floor, in the middle of the room, is a black and white mat. On it rests &rdquo;talking pieces&rdquo; objects of significance to Spicer and the seniors who serve as peer jurors and help lead peace circles. The pieces are things like stuffed animals, a rain stick, a tree stump...when a member of the circle holds the talking piece, it&rsquo;s their time to talk.</p><p>The peace room is where stakeholders in a conflict can come together to have a summit of sorts. Last week, a group of freshman girls gathered there after gossip got a little too close to a fight. With a potential 10-day suspension on the horizon, Spicer rerouted the girls to a peace circle.</p><p>Spicer told them that the circle was their time to be real. Their time to say what was on their minds. Because, as he put it, no one else was going to give them the time&mdash;not the dean and certainly not the real world.</p><p>&ldquo;You know this is not a game,&quot; Spicer warned.&nbsp;&quot;You know what&rsquo;s waiting for you if you decide to take your attitude and go out here and do stupid, silly stuff&mdash;they ready to send you right up out of here. And that world out there, as cold as it is...it&rsquo;s even colder without an education.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>That&rsquo;s the meat and potatoes right there: The object of the game is to get kids back in class. Because a kid with an education is much more likely to survive.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;People who drop out from high school are much more likely to become gang-involved than those (who) do not. And we know that a very, very important predictor of graduating high school is being able to ready by third grade,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/TMeares.htm" target="_blank">Tracey Meares</a>, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School, explained.</p><p>Meares&rsquo; research focuses on crime prevention strategies. She spent a great deal of time looking at the city of Chicago, particularly areas of high crime and poverty.</p><p>Meares subscribes to the idea that violence should be treated like a public health issue, more specifically, like a blood-born pathogen. Therefore the best violence-reduction strategy, as Meares described it, is to identify the people who are central to the network of crime, who occupy important places in densely connected networks, and to intervene to try to get them to stop engaging in violence.</p><p>Almost four years into Fenger&rsquo;s philosophical switch, the rate of freshman on track to graduate rose to between 75 and 85 percent, from around 40. Arrests at school were down. So why not put a peace room in every school?</p><p><a href="http://umojacorporation.org/leadership/staff/ilana-zafran/" target="_blank">Ilana Zafran</a> helps implement restorative justice programs in partner schools around Chicago. She said the biggest problem is patience. People want immediate results but changing a culture and restorative justice takestime.</p><p>The other criticism, Zafran explained, is that people want those who have wronged them to be held accountable. Or more intimately, when confronted, to admit their error and apologize. But, she said, sometimes people aren&rsquo;t ready to admit wrongdoing. And that can be hard.</p><p>Back at Fenger, after the talking piece had been round the circle a few times, one of the freshman girls echoed Meares&rsquo; earlier point.</p><p>She explained that while she might be &ldquo;the coolest, funniest short person you know,&rdquo; if someone had a problem with her, she&rsquo;d just avoid them. Because, she shared, her friend&rsquo;s cousin was shot and killed over some &lsquo;he-said-she-said stuff&rsquo;&mdash;and if her friend had been there, she&rsquo;d be gone too. And she wasn&rsquo;t about to lose her life over something as small as all that. She wanted to be sure the group knew, for her, the situation was over. And asked them to let it go.</p><p>The hope is that young people can learn to let go. That they can squash things before they escalate, before someone raises a hand or a gun. Or that they share senior Ana Muniz&rsquo;s philosophy on fighting.</p><p>&ldquo;You need two people to fight&mdash;I&rsquo;m not available. I&rsquo;m never available. If you want to talk,&rdquo; Muniz clarified, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m available to talk.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Muniz, who was raised in Mexico, said she already took the lessons she&rsquo;s learned to her family back home. She convened peace circles at her younger sister&rsquo;s school. The hope is that peace circles continue to expand and that what&rsquo;s happening at Fenger will continue to create ripples of peace.</p><p dir="ltr" id="internal-source-marker_0.5029294477684348"><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez" target="_blank">@katieobez</a></em></p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 11:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/restoring-roseland-confronting-violence-peaceful-practices-106651