Governor: Chicago might need National Guard help

July 17, 2008 11:29:39 AM PDT
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has offered his assistance in fighting what he calls an epidemic of crime in Chicago.The governor would send in Illinois state troopers and National Guard equipment to stop the violence. He was meeting Wednesday with the National Guard, state police and other officials to talk about the options.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley hasn't asked for any help but that isn't stopping the governor from offering his assistance.

The governor's not suggesting anything as radical as tanks and National Guard troops on the streets of Chicago. That hasn't been done to control violence since the 1968 Democratic Convention. But according to Rod Blagojevich, 16 children have been murdered in the city in the past three weeks. And gang-bangers outnumber cops 5-1. So it's time to get some of Illinois' 2,000 state troopers out of their cars and into the neighborhoods of Chicago.

"Violent crime in Chicago is out of control. In certain communities in the city of Chicago, it is reaching epidemic proportions," Blagojevich said.

The governor signed a bill Wednesday that stiffens the penalties for adults who provide guns that juveniles use in crimes. But with the Chicago Police Department and its new superintendent under intense pressure to stop an alarming increase in violent crime involving young people even in supposedly safe places like the Taste of Chicago, Blagojevich is drafting a plan that would put Illinois State Police troopers in Chicago neighborhoods. backed up by National Guard equipment, including helicopters at least for the rest of the summer, when violent crime is at a peak.

"I'm offering the resources of the state to the city to work in a constructive way with Mayor Daley to do everything we possibly can to help him end this violence," Blagojevich said.

"All help at preventing violence should be welcome, you know? We could have a cop on every corner. That would be great," said State Senator Kwame Raoul, (D) Chicago.

But veteran activist Eddie Read is wary.

"Given what I've gone through, through the 1960s and other years, when I hear about police coming into our community, I need to see very clearly what it means," he said.

"There are a lot of different ways to do this. Again, this is something we want to discuss with the Chicago Police Department and the mayor," Blagojevich said.


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