Ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police superintendent David Brown voiced aspirations for the upcoming summer to be the safest in the city's history as they revealed a new approach to tackle violence citywide.
Speaking Friday at the Whitney Young Library in the Chatham neighborhood, Lightfoot announced the new summer safety strategy, which she explained is a "whole-of-government" approach involving a number of city departments and community leaders.
The city made significant progress in reducing violent crime in 2019, according to Lightfoot, however the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated violence in Chicago and across the country.
Last weekend, at least nine individuals were killed and nearly 40 more injured in shootings across Chicago, prompting the Chicago Police Department to commit to deploying additional resources.
"...We have an obligation to continue this fight, literally, for our residents lives and making this summer the summer we've all been waiting for after the year that we just endured," the mayor said.
As outlined in the summer safety strategy, the city identified the 15 most violent beats based upon data collected during the summers of 2018, 2019 and 2020. Those areas, according to city leaders, account for more than 50% of Chicago's violence.
The summer violence strategy grouped the beats into the following four zones:
- Austin, North Lawndale and West Garfield
- West Garfield Park and West Humboldt Park
- Auburn Gresham and Greater Grand Crossing
- Roseland, South Chicago and South Shore
In the aforementioned areas, police will continue to collaborate with community and faith leaders, examine incidents "at the block level" to analyze trends in violence and identify gaps in the community's needs.
City entities such as the Chicago Public Library, the Parks District and the Department of Public Health will assign personnel to coordinate services in each zone and help create "holistic interventions and solutions."
"This is exactly how public safety is supposed to work, not law enforcement alone," Lightfoot said. "We know that's a failed approach...We have to be united together if we're going to be successful."
Brown said the new approach, in which outside partners with help law enforcement address the root causes of violence, is a "long time coming."
Lightfoot emphasized that all Chicagoans have some responsibility for safety in their communities, and she hopes the summer will be the city's safest ever.
"Our goal is to have a very safe summer by using these exact techniques to try to do that," she stated. "We will see what the future holds."