Weis: Gangs tougher to fight

February 13, 2009 3:42:26 PM PST
Another Chicago student was killed.A gunman walked up to sixteen-year-old Johnel ford on Thursday night on the city's South Side and shot him in the head. The teen's death maybe gang related.

VIDEO: Alan Krashesky's complete interview with Jody Weis

He is the eighteenth Chicago Public School student to be shot and killed this school year.

And across the city, we're coming off a year where the number of people killed was up.

Police believe one of the reasons for this is an increase in violence among gangs.

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis says the city's gang structure is changing and it's become more challenging to fight it.

The police superintendent believes the up-tick in gang violence may - oddly enough - be the result of success in dismantling larger street gangs.

"Where you might have a larger territory controlled by one gang, now that same territory may have multiple smaller cells, all very violent, but they're competing and fighting even between themselves or with rival gangs. You've got smaller independent gangs fighting over smaller turf," Supt. Jody Weis, Chicago Police Department.

And they're tougher to stop.

The city has turned to using a mobile strike force of specially trained officers to hit the gangs, concentrating in four districts on Chicago's West Side. In those districts, murders appear to have dropped from 19 in January of 2008 to 2 last month.

"Through aggressive car stops, aggressive policing, all based on intelligence. They've had very good success in those four districts," said Weis.

The superintendent has a full plate. Just this week, charges were dropped against two special operations officers who were accused of robbery and home invasion.

"There's nothing that will prohibit them from coming back on the force. However, there is an internal investigation that has to run its course, and when that case runs its course, then we'll make a decision about any issues that might be facing the officers," said Weis.

Then there was the recent embarrassing case of a 14-year-old who showed up at a police station, impersonating a police officer, and actually went out on patrol.

Some folks will be punished, because they did make mistakes. That could have been very tragic.

One year into his job, Weis is bothered by what he hasn't accomplished.

"It's very frustrating, dealing with a bureaucracy. I wanted new vehicles, new training...

"I've been very frustrated with the bureaucracy we've had to work in. I wanted to get new vehicles for them right away. I wanted to enhance their training and hoping to have a lot more things done early on. But one of the things you have to focus on is being patient," said Weis.

Despite his frustration, the superintendent calls it a privilege to serve the city and the men and women in the department.

Tune in at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning to see the complete interview with the police superintendent.