For the past year, members of the Cook County Gun Violence Task Force have studied violence in the Chicago area, releasing a report of their findings and recommendations on Wednesday as the number of homicides in the city continues to climb at a historic rate.
“This report is a blueprint," said Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who led the task force alongside Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. "It offers us hope for the future going forward."
The violence Boykin has been studying hit close to home on Tuesday, when the son of his former chief of staff Cory Foster was found fatally shot in west suburban Broadview.
“Whenever you have the hopes and dreams and aspirations of a young person just wiped out at 20 years old, I mean, there's so much that they could have given to society," Boykin said.
The report focused on three primary areas of reform in identifying solutions for Chicago's growing gun violence: law enforcement, data information and community.
The task force found a need for more strategic community policing, recommending an increase in hot-spot and focus-deterrence efforts, where officers identify specific areas of criminal activity and coordinate resources around those areas. They also called for better data-sharing between local agencies, finding that there is often very little communication when it comes to firearm tracking and other crimes. When it comes to data, the report also said that a lack of quality information about crime-related violence prevents officials from fully understanding gun violence, patterns and potential predictors.
The task force also found that a greater focus needs to put on at-risk-youth.
“We need to figure out: How do we get them into job training and how do we get them into jobs? How do we support the whole family?" Boykin asked.
Community activist the Rev. Michael Pfleger took part in the task force and says its findings appear to similar to previous reports about Chicago’s gun violence - but in order to curb the violence, the city needs to make its recommendations a reality.
"How do we force action?" Pfleger asked. "We can do things when we want to, the question has to become: Do we want to? And then if we don’t, there is really no sense to having any studies."