News from the War Zone: 5 more dead, 11 wounded in Chicago shootings

Rick Moran

That’s the toll from overnight Saturday. The previous day’s carnage included 4 dead and 7 others wounded.

And then there was the shootup in a park at a basketball game that wounded 13 earlier in the week.

Governor Quinn is considering calling out the National Guard and State Police to help the Chicago PD deal with the violence. But the reasons for the violence go far beyond numbers of police in the street and even those measures may not do much to stem the violence.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he would consider using state resources to help combat Chicago street violence, but only if city officials want the assistance.

crimescene_small2 News from the War Zone: 5 more dead, 11 wounded in Chicago shootings

Speaking on this week’s mass shooting in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Quinn was asked whether there have been discussions about sending in the state police or Illinois National Guard to assist Chicago police.

The governor said he’s had no specific conversations but noted state police are helping patrol in East St. Louis, another city that has its challenges with violent crime.

“It has to be done in a coordinated fashion with the local law enforcement, with their full cooperation,” Quinn told reporters Saturday.

Quinn did not specifically veto the idea of deploying Guard members in Chicago. A press aide later told CBS 2 the governor was speaking only about the possibility of using state police to help out.

Discussions about using state manpower to fight Chicago crime isn’t unprecedented. In 2008, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich suggested using the state police and National Guard to help Chicago police with “out of control” violence. The comment was widely interpreted as an insult to then-Mayor Richard Daley, with whom Blagojevich was feuding.

Yesterday at PJ Tatler, I detailed some of the reasons for the violence:

Chicago is now officially the “Murder Capital” of the US, according to the FBI. There’s no shortage of blame to go around for that, nor is there a dearth of explanations not related to city administration. The evolution of gangs in Chicago is often cited for the increase in violence. As gangs proliferate and fracture, drug territory shrinks and turf wars break out.

Another reason for the increase in violence is that, like Detroit, Chicago is bleeding population. As people leave, businesses close, jobs disappear, and social cohesion is lost. Once poor, but functional neighborhoods degenerate into poverty stricken breeding grounds for gangs.

But truly, you have to look to the Emanuel administration and its policing policies to trace the descent into urban chaos. Right now, Chicago is a little less than 1,000 police short of authorized strength. And with budget constraints, few new recruits are possible. This has had some impact, although other cities are facing similar shortages and don’t have Chicago’s level of violence.

There have been accusations that Emanuel has politicized the police force, appointing a politically connected deputy to then police superintendent Jody Weiss. The new superintendent, Gary McCarthy, has disbanded the anti-gang task force and is emphasizing community policing with officers on regular beats so that they can get to know the neighborhoods.There has been a greater emphasis on intelligence which is useful in some areas.

But here, we get back to numbers. Officers are leaving the force in record numbers and unless money can be found for new recruits, the problems with gang violence are likely to get worse. The strategies may be sound, but if you don’t have the personnel to make the strategy effective, it doesn’t matter.

There are the usual calls for bans on assault rifles and more gun control. But no one expects anything to happen, which leaves the ball in the hands of police. It remains to be seen whether they can do anything tactically to bring the level of violence down when they are shorthanded. To that end, perhaps Quinn should seriously consider sending help.

One thing for sure – it wouldn’t hurt.