Two of the city's most crime-infested police districts will be getting special attention under a new crackdown on gangs and narcotics, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday.
The 7th/Englewood District and the 11th/Harrison District last year accounted for about 25 percent of the homicides and shootings last year, the men said. They account for about one-third of those incidents in the first two weeks of the year, they said.
"As I've repeated, a crime in the part of the city is a crime in our city, regardless of where it happens. And while it not be specifically in your neighborhood, in your community or your police district, it is in your city, and we have to approach it in that notion," said Emanuel.
The plan includes infiltrating the districts with officers specializing in gangs and narcotics to bust up their operations. Businesses -- McCarthy mentioned gas stations and liquor stores -- that have had a history of violations will be shut down.
Additionally, 50 of the districts' "50 worst repeat offenders" have been identified -- 33 individuals in the 7th District, another 17 in the 11th -- and will be sought and prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law," said McCarthy.
The superintendent said the strategy is a targeted one, but one that will be long-term.
"This is not something that is going to go away. We are going to relentlessly pursue reducing violence in these two districts for the people who live here because they've suffered too long," he said.
Former Police Superintendent Jody Weis applauded the new initiative.
"I think that’s a terrific approach," Weis said.
Weis tracks crime stats in his new position with the Chicago Crime Commission, and he said he had been shocked at the uptick in murders in the fall of 2011. In late August, he said, the city was on track for nearly a 13 percent reduction in homicides. Then, during the final four months of the year, killings increased to such an extent that the city ended with barely a one percent murder reduction.
"When you have a four month window where crime is up, you have to be a little concerned about that," said Weis. "We lost a lot of ground we had gained for the whole year."
The former superintendent has been critical of a decision made after his departure to shut down the so-called "targeted response" units. Those mobile strike forces were deployed to crime hot spots during his tenure, and he believed reduced crime statistics showed they worked.
McCarthy defended that decision.
"The targeted response teams were uniformed officers, attacking crime, in a neighborhood, and then moving," he said. "It’s not a long term strategy."
Defending his department's record at year's end, McCarthy said the numbers were skewed heavily by an assortment of crimes.
"During that time frame… shootings were down. We had a 17 day period where shootings were down and murders were up significantly. That’s where we lost it. It wasn’t a long term trend," he said.
Weis said he supports the new initiative, and predicted success.
"I would be stunned if that didn’t really start tamping down crime in those areas," he said.
In announcing the initiative, McCarthy said he was replacing current Englewood District Commander Anthony Carothers -- the brother of Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) -- with Leo Schmitz, the current commander of the department's Gang Enforcement Unit.
While homicide rates city-wide fell slightly last year, the Englewood District saw a 40 percent increase.
Carothers is now the executive officer to Harrison Area Deputy Chief Eddie Johnson.