Mayor Richard Daley on Tuesday publicly defended Police Supt. Jody Weis' private meeting with West Side gang leaders, saying such meetings are held in other major cities and that they're worth it if they save a life.
"First of all, let's be realistic," Daley said, speaking at a press conference on new technology initiatives in Chicago. "Other cities have done this. Boston. Cincinnati. Los Angeles. What it is a community of people getting together with police and talking to these gangbangers ... there's a lot of community involvement.
Daley also said such meetings can protect citizens.
"I'll sit down with anyone if it saves one life," Daley said.
For his part, Weis is adamant: "This was not a negotiation."
Nevertheless, Alderman Bob Fioretti says Weis is "negotiating with urban terrorists." Fioretti is considering a run for Mayor and finds the Weis summit "unacceptable."
Others tho, like Alderman Walter Burnett says he's already seen results from Weis' meeting with the gang honchos. Burnett says "I'm happy, gang leaders are calling me, they want to have a meeting, they want to talk about a truce in the community."
Wednesday morning Weis is expected to brief Chicago aldermen on this new police initiative. And there's word the gang leaders themselves may speak to the press on Thursday. They may prompt questions for the press on how to cover -- since traditionally the media shuns giving gang leaders any publicity.
Weis is surprised by the negative reaction to this new approach and says "this is not something Jody Weis came up with overnight. This is backed up by academic research." Other cities using this same strategy are Cincinnati, Boston and Los Angeles.