The Crusader Newspaper Group

Richard Boykin releases final gun violence study

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

In a move of unity aimed at reducing gun violence, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart released their Gun Violence Task (GVTF) Force report which reveals that sharing the expertise of the Chicago Police Department and the Sheriff’s police could put a dent in gun crimes.

The report called for a greater need for information, sharing of statistical reporting, and research studies needed to understand the gun violence issue, including its patterns and potential predictors.

The areas recommended for sharing resources are in Law Enforcement with improved and more strategic community policing. By using hot-spot and focus-deference policing which identify specific areas of criminal activity, implementing coordinated practices and resources in those volatile areas could make a difference.

Boykin said the study proved there needs to be more collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office and the Chicago Police Department. The agencies would be more effective in combatting gun violence by working in tandem.

In agreement was Sheriff’s Police Deputy Chief Mike Anton, chairman of the GVTF, who echoed the Sheriff and said that together Sherriff Dart’s office and CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s office could put a real dent in gun violence.

Data sharing by law enforcement agencies has been woefully lacking. Cooperative sharing of data is needed to get at the perpetrators of gun violence.

“The GVTF reportedly found that a substantial lack of quality data related to crime-related violence, exists in any cohesive or analytical sense,” the report stated.

Sheriff Dart said, “We started this with the goal of aiming small, not relying on an ineffective legislature to pass sweeping laws, but instead focusing on evidence-based strategies that we could actually implement, to try and curb the gun violence that plagues our streets. In a measure of initial success, we’ve already begun implementing a number of the recommendations within the report.”

The report called for more crime-related violence research to be conducted by government-university partnerships and the creation of local and state-based crime-related research centers.

Said Dart: “We need to be smarter on this issue and are sure we know all that we can about how to prevent and deter crime-related violence and the fact of the matter is that we just aren’t there right now.”

Dart’s office has drafted legislation he says would create a state-based Crime-related Violence Research Center within the University of Illinois. His bill unanimously passed the Illinois House Higher Education Committee with bipartisan support.

The GVTF discovered that the traditional punishment-based policing strategies “do not create a conducive environment to reduce gun violence.” The report called for greater cooperation and partnering with local agencies and community organizations.

Referring to sharing of law enforcement services, sharing data and better relations with the community, Boykin said, “These three things we can do without any legislation from Springfield, the city or the county. You see better relationships between the Sheriff’s Office and the city than under former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.”

According to the report, in the past ten-years, more than 50,000 African American men were victims of firearm homicides in the U.S.

What is puzzling, according to the report, is that Chicago has a population that is three times smaller than L.A. and New York yet Chicago has more gun violence, even though police confiscate more guns than both of those cities combined,

In Chicago, three-fourths of the gunshot victims are Black and they live in concentrated 10-20 high-crime areas on the south or west sides of the city. “A disturbing number of these victims are innocent children who get in the way when criminals target rivals,” the report stated.

On one side of the picture, the report said homicides that result from gun violence account for only one half of an otherwise incomplete picture but too often people forget about the other half…the non-fatal shootings who are treated at the Stroger Hospital by doctors from the Cook County Health and Hospital Systems.

Boykin has often said the cost of caring for gunshot victims ranges between $35,000 and $50,000 per patient, but the report said in some cases, those costs could rise between $250,000 for the first year and $200,000 for subsequent years.

The report called for “police-based policing” or “hot spot policing.” It is a way of zeroing in on gun violence areas.

Commissioner Boykin presented the report to the Cook County Board. “Nobody expected over 700 people would be killed in 2016 and over 4,000 people shot. These kinds of shootings shock the conscious of a civilized society.”

Looking forward to a new year, Boykin added, “We have to work as hard as we can to make sure 2017 is not like 2016. We cannot afford for this to happen next year.”


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