After a particularly bloody weekend in Chicago that left 10 dead and at least 40 wounded in a rash of gun violence, city officials and community members are looking for answers from the Chicago Police Department.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy rejected claims that the warm weather welcomed the crime spike, and took responsibility for communication gaps between intelligence and beat cops, according to WBEZ.
"I'm not willing to chalk it up to voodoo or the weather, whether we reduce or not reduce crime," McCarthy,told ABC Chicago. "I'm sorry. I'm accountable for this and I'm not going to blame the weather is what this boils down to."
McCarthy emphasized the police force's focus on combating gangs, a move that matches data suggesting that they were responsible for nearly all 46 shootings recorded between Thursday and Sunday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The superintendent said that gangs have come to dominate Chicago's firearm violence: last year gangs were responsible for about half of the city's gunfire, but they're responsible for an estimated 80 percent of all shooting violence this year.
In a press conference Monday responding to the weekend violence, McCarthy diagnosed Chicago's gang problem as unique and widespread, rivaling Los Angeles' well-known problem with impenetrable gang blocs, NBC Chicago reports. He said the police force's biggest failure at present is anticipating retaliatory attacks that can often set off a chain reaction of violent responses.
To improve this, McCarthy announced a planned audit of the gang databases to cross-reference intelligence and better predict gang action by looking for patterns between individual behavior, turf overlaps and ongoing fueds, according to NBC.
Critics say McCarthy's plan to beef up communication to beat officers isn't sufficient, and have called for more patrolling on city streets, where there have been 408 shootings so far this year, up from 296 during the same time frame in 2011, according to CBS Chicago. Pat Camden, spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police union, told the station the CPD needs more manpower.
"I don’t think they’ve hired 600 officers in the past five years," Camden told CBS.
Anti-violence activists like Tio Hardiman, Director of CeaseFire Illinois, thinks the city needs to shift its focus to enact lasting change. He told ABC Chicago the deeply-rooted violence among Chicago gangs can only be combated with strategies focused on behavioral change.
"Just like you and I get up every morning and go to work, these guys get up every morning and think of who they're going to shoot today," Hardiman told ABC.
The 10 fatalities this weekend included 6-year-old Aliyah Shell, who was caught in the cross-fire of a gang-related shooting in her Little Village neighborhood. Two teens have been charged in her murder.
“The violence this past weekend is unacceptable to me and every law-abiding Chicago resident,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “ Our streets belong to the families and children of our city, not to the gangs and gangbangers."
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