Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week commented that his administration's strategy to fight crime is proving effective.
On Thursday, Emanuel announced the takedown of two alleged "gang-controlled drug markets" operating on the city's Southeast and Far North sides. The raids of the markets led to the arrest of 20 offenders with "extensive criminal histories," according to the mayor's office.
"We are working each and every day to remove guns, gangs and drugs from our city’s streets, as these are the main drivers behind shootings and murders," the mayor said in a statement Thursday.
The mayor also counts the takedowns as another successful engagement of the city's "wraparound" crime-fighting strategy, which was introduced in May.
Still, Emanuel added that the effort to reduce crime on Chicago's streets is an ongoing one, though he said crime statistics are moving in the right direction.
"Those sets of statistics are very little comfort when you have a mother on the phone whose child may have been shot in the leg, may have been shot in the arm or worse," the mayor said Thursday, according to NBC Chicago. (Watch video of the conference above. Scroll down to weigh in on the city's crime strategies.)
The mayor's announcement came the same day as the first broadcast of a national, three-part ABC news report on the impact of gang violence in Chicago.
The city has seen more than 400 murders this year and its murder rate is currently more than four times New York's. Homicides in Chicago, through last month, are up 24 percent over the previous year in the city.
Such numbers have put the mayor on defense all year, particularly amid criticism that the city's hiring of new police officers is not keeping pace with attrition. In his budget address earlier this month, Emanuel said the city will be hiring 500 new officers, but some have said that is still not enough.
“If Chicago wants to lose the title ‘homicide capital of the nation’ it’s time to get serious about increasing the number of patrolmen and detectives on the street," police union president Mike Shields told the Chicago Sun-Times this month. "We at least need to hire 1,400 officers. That’s at a minimum.”
Meanwhile, at least nine people were shot citywide Friday and early Saturday, including two men -- aged 18 and 34 -- who were killed, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Among those wounded by gun violence Friday was also a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the left side of his chest while walking through an alley in the 11400 block of South Stewart around 7:30 p.m., the Chicago Sun-Times reports. His condition is not known.
Emanuel, along with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, last weekend introduced another new anti-crime initiative called the Community Anti-violence and Restoration Effort, which aims to implement a safe passage program, increased police response to violence and new after-school and mentoring programs for youth in high-crime areas, according to the Associated Press.
Marina Alonso, president of anti-violence group Mothers for Peace, told WBEZ that she was surprised the city's Back of the Yards neighborhood was not chosen as one of the first areas of the city where the new program will be implemented. The mayor's office, in response, noted that other districts had higher crime rates and demonstrated more immediate need.
"It angers me that here we have young people in this area who have no alternative but to join the gangs because a lot of the programs that are offered to them the parents cannot afford to pay for," Alonso told the station.