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Weis responds to weekend spike in violence

Daley plans meetings on Chicago violence
April 24, 2008 9:00:01 PM PDT
In the last week alone 12 people have been shot and killed in Chicago.

If you just look at the number of Chicago Public Schools students shot to death, the numbers are up. By this time last year, 18 CPS students died by gunfire. So far this year, the number is at 21. But experts say that doesn't tell the whole story.

Forty people shot. Twelve of them are dead. All in less than a week in the City of Chicago. Stunning numbers -- but do they represent a trend toward a more violent city?

"It's like predicting the weather. Two days ago, they said we're going to have thunderstorms Tuesday night and they never appeared," said Deputy Supt. Steve Peterson, Chicago Police.

Last year on the third weekend in April there were 24 shootings. This year that number rose to 36. Nine of them were fatal. But on Labor Day weekend last summer violence claimed 12 lives in Chicago.

"It's the same, it's the same. The violence has been going on. We have to change the mindset," said Tio Hardiman, Operation Cease Fire.

Hardiman is the director of mediation services for Cease Fire. The group's staff members intervene when gangs and tempers flare in Chicago. He says to make sense of the murder rate would require sensible reasons for the killing -- of which there are few.

The most common motive, Hardiman says: robbery.

"They hear someone has money in the house, they'll go in and nine times out of 10 they don't get no money. They just end up shooting people. Guys looking at each other crazy. Guys getting into it about females," said Hardiman.

Chicago's murder rate is actually at its lowest point in 40 years. Back in 1965, 395 people were killed in the city. The numbers soared in the 1970s, 80s and 90s before retreating back into the 400s for the past few years.

Mayor Daley, though, is worried enough that he has called a mini-summit of sorts in his office Friday.

"It concerns all of us, so we're having a group of ministers and other people sit around and say, is there any other solutions we've lost," the mayor said Thursday.

Another sign of the mayor's concern: in addition to Friday's City Hall summit, ABC7 has learned he summoned his new police Superintendent Jody Weis for a meeting late Thursday afternoon. The mayor, though, said, despite significant staff changes and the recent rash of violence, Superintendent Weiss still enjoys his confidence.

"It's hard to judge anybody on one weekend, I think you have to look over the long run. Will there be spikes of violence? Probably that will happen," said Weis.

Weis appeared on WLS Radio's Roe Conn Show Thursday afternoon to put the recent spike of violence in perspective. He also took questions from callers, many who were police officers.

"I've never seen the morale this bad," said one.

In his short tenure, Weis has made several changes within the department, but Weis refuses to blame his decisions on the spike of violence.

"A lot of this attributed to some gangs having a conflict over turf. We will be in that area with full force, we will have helicopters up, we will some of our SWAT teams on hand, we'll have some of our specialized units in place We will not allow that to happen again," said Weis.

While the numbers are alarming, Weis says this year is no more violent than years past.

"Although there is a lot of news about this, we're really pretty close to last year's rate, which was the lowest it's been in, I think, 40 years," said Weis.

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