By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
In an effort to curb the gun violence that has taken the lives of 1,400 people over the past three-years, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin introduced legislation Thursday declaring gun violence a public health epidemic in Cook County.
He is calling on the governor, the mayor, Cook County and federal government officials to meet in an effort to pull additional resources needed to curb gun violence.
“In the last three-years, more than 7,000 people have been shot in the city of Chicago and 1,400 plus of those victims have been killed,” said Boykin.
The gun violence not only leaves a trail of blood and shatters the families of both victims and shooters, but it impacts county government as well. Comm. Boykin said the state’s attorney must prosecute those who are charged, the public defender must defend them, and a number of the victims are taken to Cook County’s Stroger Hospital, and if they don’t survive the shootings, their bodies are taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsies, all at a terrific cost to taxpayers.
Pointing to the Chicago Police Department, Boykin said, “The police are solving not even one-fifth of the gun violence homicides which clearly shows we need additional resources.
“All this is to say that County taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of this dramatic spike in gun violence and that doesn’t even take into account the tremendous costs that victims and their families must bear,” he stated.
“It’s time to stand up and call this issue what it is: a public health epidemic. Until we face it down, it will continue. My goal in this declaration is to show Springfield and Washington that we need resources, and we need them now. Every day that passes without action is a day where lives will be lost.”
Comm. Boykin’s resolution states that already one month into the year, there have been 200 people shot and about 30 killed in the city of Chicago—a city he says that makes up about half of the population of Cook County.
This is why Comm. Boykin says gun violence has become a public health epidemic, especially since only 17 percent of homicides resulted in criminal charges in 2017.
According to Comm. Boykin, the gun violence in Chicago is concentrated in about 10 of the city’s 77 neighborhoods. African Americans make up about 30 percent of the city population and 80 percent of the gun violence victims and deaths. He urged all government bodies to focus all of their resources on these neighborhoods “to fight this scourge of gun violence.”
The additional resources should include use of the Health and Hospitals System which he said should utilize its staff and volunteers to provide trauma counseling, and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office should work to ensure that victims of violence receive as much assistance as possible.
And, Boykin is calling for the use of faith-based leaders and the church community to be first responders to gun violence and as interveners to prevent gun violence.
“The level of gun violence in Cook County and Chicago has risen dramatically in recent years, and it has now reached a public health epidemic,” said Boykin calling on the Cook County Board of Commissioners to declare the County a public health epidemic regarding gun violence.