As Chicago prepares for another likely violent summer, Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday urged U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "increase the Department of Justice’s support for gun violence prevention efforts" in the city.
In a letter sent to Sessions, Durbin asked that the attorney general answer questions regarding the U.S. Department of Justice's commitment to resources for Chicago and gave him a deadline of June 2 to respond.
"What federal resources can you immediately provide to the CPD and the Crime Lab to help support SDSCs as we head into the summer months?" Durbin asks.
Durbin requested the DOJ expand local law enforcement's use of high-tech intelligence centers called SDSCs as well as "improved access" to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) system.
Chicago has been in the national spotlight when it comes to gun violence, and Durbin said several new approaches that include these high-tech initiatives have seen results.
Durbin on Monday visited the 7th police district in Englewood, where the highest number of shootings happened in 2016. Durbin said the 7th and 11th districts now use more high-tech crime fighting tools, including setting up strategic decision support centers, resulting in fewer shootings.
"It is a coordinated all-hands-on-deck effort," he said.
Since February those districts have seen a 32 percent reduction in shootings, police said.
"We are showing that less people are being shot, and that’s the bottom line. Less people are being injured," 7th District Cmdr. Ken Johnson said. "And I think any way we can get towards that goal of fewer people shot, is a plus."
"It's definitely making an impact, and as the commander said, it’s about saving lives," CPD Chief Technology Officer Jonathon Lewin said.
In his letter, Durbin asks for Sessions' commitment to expand the strategic support in other districts.
"We need to do more to crack down on the illegal trafficking of guns and support violence prevention initiatives that have shown promising results, like SDSCs," he said. "I hope the federal Department of Justice will step up and be a constructive partner in reducing gun violence.”
The two districts not only are receiving more information, but also more possible predictors of crime. The University of Chicago Crime Lab analysts are assisting officers as the months ahead are typically the most violent.
"We're going into the summer months, the hot months," he said, "and it really gets more dangerous, so we’re hoping that trend will continue and even improve."
Last month Sessions sent letters across the country threatening to cut off federal funds if they didn't allow law enforcement to cooperate freely with immigration enforcement.