Government Technology

Social Media Transforms the Way Chicago Fights Gang Violence



A mural in Chicago is titled A Mother's Greatest Fear, referencing the city's gang-related violent crime
This mural in a Chicago neighborhood is entitled “A Mother’s Greatest Fear.” Officials estimate that between 50 to 80 percent of the city’s violent crime is gang-related.

After experiencing a homicide rate that earned it international attention last year, Chicago is upending the traditional style of policing and using social networks to rank people’s likelihood of killing and being killed.

September 30, 2013 By

It’s Friday afternoon on the far West Side of Chicago, and Barbara West, a petite, soft-spoken African-American woman, is out knocking on doors. West isn’t a salesman or solicitor; she’s the commander of the Chicago Police Department’s 15th District. Today, she is visiting a special subset of her constituents—the 20-plus people who are likeliest to shoot someone or be shot themselves. She’s accompanied by Chris Mallette, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 250-pound former linebacker and football coach who now heads the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy, an anti-violence initiative funded by the MacArthur Foundation and supported by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

The 15th District—like Chicago as a whole—has a murder problem. In cities such as New York and Los Angeles, homicides have fallen by nearly 80 percent since the early 1990s. Crime in Chicago has fallen too, but its murder rate has remained stubbornly high. While the homicide rate today is only half of what it was a generation ago, Chicago residents are twice as likely to be killed as New Yorkers or Angelenos. For young African-American men that likelihood is higher still. One out of every 400 young black men is killed each year in Chicago’s highest-crime neighborhoods. Much of the violence is associated with the city’s gangs. Chicago Police Department officials estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the city’s shootings and murders are gang-related.

It isn’t just Chicago. Some 80 percent of the nation’s largest cities and half the country’s suburbs report significant gang problems. But Chicago’s gangs are different. First, there’s the scale of the problem. With some 100,000 documented gang members, Chicago has more gang members than any other city with the possible exception of Los Angeles. (Researchers estimate that gangs account for at least half the homicides in those two cities, a number so large that together they make up about 20 percent of all gang-related homicides nationwide.)

Last year, Chicago experienced a spike in homicides that brought national—indeed international—media attention. The 15th District’s murder rate surged in 2012, due in part to a feud that broke out within one of the area’s largest gangs, the Four Corner Hustlers, a faction of the Gangster Disciples that controls the area’s lucrative marijuana trade. Most police departments would have responded by “flooding the zone” with additional officers, a tactic known as “hot spot” policing, and perhaps targeting the Four Corner Hustlers for narcotics operations. In fact, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has done just that. But it’s also doing something far more unusual. It’s figuring out exactly who is likeliest to kill and be killed in each district.

The 20-some people that West and Mallette are visiting all have connections to the neighborhood’s 48 active gang factions. But what makes these individuals extreme risks is whom they associate with—in other words, their networks.


View Full Story

| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Fresh Ideas In Online Security for Public Safety Organizations
Lesley Carhart, Senior Information Security Specialist at Motorola Solutions, knows that online and computer security are more challenging than ever. Personal smartphones, removable devices like USB storage drives, and social media have a significant impact on security. In “Fresh Ideas in Online Security for Public Safely Organizations,” Lesley provides recommendations to improve your online security against threats from social networks, removable devices, weak passwords and digital photos.
Meeting Constituents Where They Are With Dynamic, Real-Time Mobile Engagement
Leveraging the proven and open Kofax Mobile Capture Platform, organizations can rapidly integrate powerful mobile engagement solutions across the spectrum of mobile image capture, mobile data capture and complete mobile process integration. Kofax differentiates itself by extending capture to mobility, supporting multiple points of constituent engagement. Kofax solutions dynamically orchestrate the user’s mobile experience from a single platform—reducing time to market, improving process perf
Public Safety 2019
Motorola conducted an industry survey on the latest trends in public safety communications. The results provide an outlook of what technology is in store for your agency in the next five years. Download the results to gain this valuable insight.
View All

Featured Papers