A recent news report indicated that the number of Chicago Public School students murdered in the last 16 months could fill an elementary school.
That number -- 508 children -- comes out to more than one killing a day, and CBS2's Jay Levine tackled the overwhelming question of why. Why are the city's kids being shot down on their way home from school? Why aren't parents, teachers, neighbors and police stopping it? Can it be stopped?
In his report, Levine mentioned the city's surveillance cameras, and that got a quick response from a blogger who claims to be an off-duty cop, Second City Cop.
"The answer is out there, Jay. We've said it tons of times," the blogger wrote, referring Levine to an article in the Times Picayune in which New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin publicly shared a comment allegedly made to him by Mayor Richard Daley at a recent mayors conference.
The Times Picayune said Nagin claims Daley approached him to discuss crime cameras.
"Look, I like these crime cameras you guys are doing in New Orleans. They're cheaper than hiring more police officers and we're going to do them in a big way in Chicago," Nagin, in an appearance on the New Orleans FOX channel, quoted Daley as saying.
It was like music to the ear of Second City Cop. That site has been saying for some time that the city is replacing officers with blue light cameras -- of which there are thousands in Chicago, according to Daley spokeswoman Jodi Kawada.
"Chicago has the most integrated camera system in the United States," she said.
The paper in New Orleans seemed impressed by all that, pointing out that "while New Orleans' camera network has had repeated major problems, The New York Times last month published a story about how Chicago's 911 system recently was linked with cameras across the city, allowing dispatchers to track criminal suspects based on information provided by callers."
Second City Cop is unimpressed, and has challenged Levine to "be a reporter" -- file a Freedom of Information Act request to check the manpower numbers for the last five, 10, 15, and 20 years. The blogger says the numbers have dropped; that as the blue light cameras went up, the size of the Chicago Police Department went down.
He claims that the department is now "short almost 1,000 officers from the totals of 12 years ago and getting shorter every day."
"Welcome to the new Chicago police model. More cameras. Less officers," Second City Cop wrote on Monday.
NBC Chicago contacted the Police Department to get their take on Second City Cop's suggestion that more cameras means less officers on the street. They replied:
On Wednesday, Second City Cop posted a clarification of his position, saying the problem isn't with the cameras so much as with "misguided spending," which, the blogger claims, relies on the cameras to deter crime, rather than on a police officer's presence.
All that said, it doesn't appear that Levine, Nagin, Daley or Second City Cop are any closer to figuring out how to stop the killing of kids on Chicago streets.
Maybe we can approach it from a different angle.