2016 was a murderous year for Chicago. Over 4000 people were shot. Over 700 people were shot and killed. In total, there were 762 murders in Chicago last year.
Solutions are in the works. The Chicago Police Department plans to use a combination of technology, intelligence gathering, training, hiring more officers, and community initiatives to combat the violence. The Department is lobbying for tougher sentencing for illegal gun possession and gun crimes.
It is a good bet, there are strategies they are not making public.
More is needed. It is hoped there is a strategic plan to incorporate federal law enforcement to help crack down on the gangs, no matter how big or small. Whether it is a few members controlling a block or two or the large gangs, they all are organized criminal enterprises.
All gang members are criminals. Never forget this.
The IRS should be included. Just think of the message it would send when some young gang member or drug dealer goes to prison for years over failing to file income taxes or failing to report thousands of dollars in illicit income.
There should be a policy for the Chicago Police Department to report arrested gang members or drug dealers to the IRS.
Remember, it was the IRS who took down Al Capone, not Eliot Ness. The IRS also worked with the Justice Department to drive the Chicago Outfit to irrelevancy. The IRS could be a powerful tool to help take violent offenders off the streets using the tax laws.
One thing the federal government should take a hard look at is the politicians association with the gangs and drug dealers. Politicians who are cozy with criminals.
"The paradox is that Chicago’s struggle to combat street gangs is being undermined by its own elected officials. And the alliances between lawmakers and lawbreakers raise a troubling question: Who actually rules the neighborhoods—our public servants or the gangs?" (Chicago Magazine)
This is not just a law and order problem. There is no way we can police our way out of criminality. Violent crime can be mitigated, but it will erupt again somewhere down the line unless other initiatives are imposed.
Most of the violence occurs in impoverished and disadvantaged areas in Chicago. In some neighborhoods, crime is the alternate or only economy.
Poverty is the root cause of Chicago's crime and the criminal violence. It is unfortunate our elected officials and policy makers in City Hall, Springfield, and Washington D.C. bitterly cling to the failed public and social policies of the past five decades.
If politicians and policymakers were serious about reducing crime and violence, they would be touting and lobbying for economic development in impoverished areas. Politicians, especially the career politicians, go fetal when it comes to economic development in their wards or districts.
Their political careers are based on keeping people poor to keep them voting. According to the politicians and policymakers, poverty is not a bad thing. It is not people's fault they are poor.
The politicians believe in tossing out safety nets instead of pushing for development and job growth. Politicians and policymakers are the root cause of permanent poverty in Chicago.
Once in a while, they will tout the opening of a retail establishment that provides part-time jobs paying low wages. That is not a long term solution.
There are miles, in the aggregate, of vacant land in these areas. A great deal of this land was former commercial, manufacturing, and industrial property. There are too many vacant commercial buildings in these areas. Much of it has been vacant for four decades or more. Urban Renewal created urban blight.
If the politicians had the will, this land could be developed for commerce and industry. They could devise plans to make it easier, faster, and more efficient to develop these properties.
Politicians could demand insurance underwriters to provide cost effective insurance for developers and emerging businesses. They could entice companies to build, provide job training, and hire local residents.
There is no political will to bring economic development to these areas or it would have been accomplished long ago.
You do not help people by giving them handouts. You help them by giving them a hand up. If we want to mitigate crime and violence, there has to be an alternative. Clinging to five decades of failure is not the alternative.
There are black, Hispanic, and progressive caucuses in City Hall, Springfield, and Washington D.C. Black and Hispanic voters should be asking themselves, "What are these caucuses doing for us, besides being symbolic?" Progressive is not pursuing the failed policies of the past five decades. That is regressive, not moving forward.
Poverty will never be eliminated. Poverty can be mitigated. There is no reason for people to live in multigenerational poverty. Poverty should be a temporary condition.
Criminal activity will go down as poverty is mitigated. As criminal activity decreases, violence will decrease.
What is the big fear of career politicians? When people have an opportunity to earn a steady income, they look to move out. Other people move in. Those people might be smarter and vote the career politicians out.
Permanent poverty is job security for career politicians. Just ask Danny Davis, Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson Junior, Robin Kelly, and any and all of those in city, state, and federal government who represent impoverished areas.
Community leaders, clergy, and members of the business community must step forward to help bring social change to poverty stricken areas. Young people need mentors to look up to. Successful people, especially those who rose from poverty, are needed to start programs to show young people a better way.
Young people need to meet professionals and trades people. They need to aspire to be something other than a gang banger or dope dealer. There should be better job skills training, mentoring, and internships targeted at these communities.
Last, all the people in this city should channel our outrage into some kind of action. We should be a loud chorus demanding our politicians and policy makers do something instead of nothing. This is not a racial problem. It is a Chicago problem. Only we, all of us, can help solve it.
This is our city. Those neighborhoods are Chicago. The victims and their families are our people. We owe it to them to put heat on the politicians and policymakers to cease and desist making five decades of failure an option.
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