Gang Meetings Worked in Cincinnati. How About Chicago?

Similar strategy paid dividends in Ohio

By Sandra Torres
|  Thursday, Sep 2, 2010  |  Updated 10:15 AM CDT
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Gangs: Symbols, Colors & Hand Signs

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Moshpix: Chicago's latest reality crime drama, "The Squeeze" shines a light on Cook County Jail's practice of squeezing information out of inmates. Some of the most important work relates to gangs. Following is a beginners guide to gang signs made possible by information gleaned from some of Cook County's lowest.

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When Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis met with gang leaders last month, he wasn't being innovative.

It's a strategy that has been used in about 60 jurisdictions across the country, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The tactic involves a law enforcement official meeting with gang leaders and urging them to put their guns down or else.

David Kennedy is a New York professor behind a 15-year-old law that backs this strategy. He expects Chicago to see a drastic decrease in violence after launching a pilot program here.

"What we would like to see in Chicago is what we've seen everywhere else where it's done well, which is a very large and sustained crime reduction," he said to the paper.

On August 17th, Weis and representatives of other law-enforcement agencies met with a small group of alleged gang leaders from the west side. At the meeting, which took place in the Garfield Park Conservatory, these gang leaders were given a phone number to get help with jobs and social services. However, The main purpose of the meeting was to warn the leaders they must stop the killing or their gangs would be targeted by law-enforcement officials with everything from federal conspiracy charges to increased parole visits and traffic enforcement.

News of the meeting caught the attention of other gangs, who are now planning a news conference today to voice their opinion about the secret meetings.

Kennedy says that shows the message is working. "It's a matter of fact that even really hard-core offenders will jump out of the way of a speeding car," he said.

According to the Sun-Times, Cincinnati is one of the cities that tried this approach. Since the first meeting in June 1997, murders have gone down about 40 percent, and police have been able to identify members of 69 gangs. But not all the gangs got the message, Kennedy said. About 25 members of the Northside Taliband6 were arrested in a conspiracy case, he added.

Cincinnati authorities continue to meet with gang leaders about every four months and as of last year, about 100 people received jobs through the program -- about half kept them, Kennedy said.


 

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