CeaseFire, CPD partnership begins

July 13, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The group received the check one day after the group helped arrange the surrender of teenager police wanted to question in connection with the shooting of two girls.

It is an interesting idea that's now a reality. Officials say the neighborhood around 63rd and Eberhart on Chicago's South Side has been plagued by gun and drug violence. The hope is now that anti-violence group CeaseFire can help change all of that.

Woodlawn one of the first neighborhoods where the new partnership between CeaseFire and Chicago police begins.

"I grew up in this neighborhood," said Damon Frierson. "I think there's a little bit too much violence in this area."

For the first time, the City of Chicago is funding an anti-violence group's efforts by awarding it a $1 million grant to help stop the violence.

The new, pilot program aimed at reducing and preventing gang violence will Initially focus on so-called hot spots in two police districts on the South and West sides.

"We're happy to be a part of the mayor's overall strategy to reduce violence in Chicago," said CeaseFire's Tio Hardiman. "It's time for everybody to roll their sleeves up and go to work."

"We initiated this operation to assist our detectives in solving violent crimes in these two districts, including shootings and murders," said Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

The start of this unique partnership comes as the group's Roseland chapter brokered the surrender of 18-year-old Jermaine Lewis. He is the teen police are questioning about a drive-by shooting that left two girls wounded.

"What we don't want is family to become a victim, and this is part of that retaliation part that you always hear CeaseFire talking about how stop retaliations," said CeaseFire Roseland's Bob Jackson.

CeaseFire plans to hire at least 24 violence "interrupters," who will earn anywhere between $30,000 and $45,000, to mediate conflicts.

Critics say the funding should have been used to hire more police officers.

"Society would rather see a million dollars spent on Chicago police officers than on CeaseFire, but this is the type of thing that happens prior to an election," said Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields.

But, for most who live in the South Side Woodlawn neighborhood, it's just about keeping kids safe.

"They're killing all our Martin Luther Kings, they're killing all our John F. Kennedys, they'll killing our Malcolm X," said neighborhood resident Darlene Lash. "They need to realize that the young people is what's going to bring us back."

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