I'm not sure if there is a living soul alive that does not know that last weekend Chicago had 75 people shot and 13 murdered. Indeed 5 mass shootings at separate locations accounted for 25 of those numbers in a two and a half hour siege of gang mayhem. Chicago is 9 days into August and already 136 people have been shot and 25 have been murdered, 19 people shot down on a daily basis. Every politician in Chicago and beyond including the President of the United States has weighed in on the matter. So far the only solution seems to be to send 600 additional police officers to those troubled communities. Make no mistake those communities are plagued by gang thugs who have little or no disrespect for human life. They have a cancer among them and it seems little is being done to stem the bloodshed.
Besides the sobering number of victims, a secondary shock has taken hold. Not one arrest has been made in any of those shootings. No witnesses have come forward to assist the police in their investigation. The news media and many others seem content with the answer being, they simply do not trust the police. After spending 33 years working Chicago's streets I'd like to say that if everyone is thinking alike, nobody is thinking. There are ample reasons for the code of silence but you better believe FEAR ranks right at the top. Those folks who live in those communities no doubt know who most of the shooters are. They are friends, neighborhoods, relatives and their children. They know very well that no matter who you are in that chain "snitches get stitches" and indeed at times wind up dead in ditches. Gang thugs have proven that nobody is immune from their warped retaliation. If 100 children under 16, including a 3-year-old get in the way, it makes no difference.
All through our American history reward money has been used by various agencies including Pinkerton's, local sheriffs, federal marshals, and countless others as an incentive. Think back to the old west and the reward posters, think of the modern day crime stoppers programs, and the FBI's most wanted posters, offering reward incentives for tips and information leading to arrests and convictions. Countless variables make reward money difficult, some criminologists say they have mixed results with the time honored tactic. One of the drawbacks is that investigators will be bombarded with erroneous leads, not likely to happen in Chicago in my opinion. But most law enforcement agencies and policemen will tell you it works as a means to draw out a wary informant, sometimes those who can break a case. When one thinks about the dismal clearance rate the Chicago Police have -- some estimate between 14 and 17% -- my thought is what the hell do they stand to lose by not at least putting it on the table and look into an incentive program. Eternal loyalty is inhuman and betrayal is human and when you add monetary rewards to those words they ring even louder.
Now for the hard part, where does the money come from? Chicago and Cook County's already over burdened tax payers can only be asked for so much, most of us agree on that, but remember Bloombergs analysis that stated that Chicago's violence added up to staggering $2.5 billion dollars a year in medical costs. The University of Chicago's crime lab went a step further and said that figure broke down to $2,500 for every household in Chicago. So we can see Chicago's tax payers are big players in paying for the mayhem. Add to the expense, the Chicago Police Departments 100 million dollar price tag for it's VRI (violence reduction Initiative ) to pay-off duty cops time and a half to join the fight against the epidemic of violence. The safe passage program costs tax payers upwards of 7 million dollars yearly to walk the children to school. You get the KILLA'S you get the shooters, they just keep doing it. Something has to change, new ideas have to be tried. Chicago is not going to arrest its way out of the problem. New ideas have to be heard and thought out. Remember "ever tried, ever failed, no matter, try again, fail again, fail better.
My guess is there are people who will, and have the means to help with the financial burden of an incentive program. On April 11th this year, Ken Griffin, a local Chicago billionaire venture capitalist, gave the City 10 million dollars to help in the fight against violence, he stated "no child should be afraid to walk to school or play outside." He earlier donated 15 million dollars more to build bike paths and soccer fields. We have two billionaires running for Governor of Illinois who have both spent over $200 million dollars to call each other names on television ads (as if I had to remind the people of Illinois). How many more could be found to join in the cause? After all these are children's lives we are trying to save. It might work. I for one would be surprised if it didn't. At least we have to remember, "a mind is like a parachute, it has to be open to work."
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