Hadiya Pendleton: Mayor Emanuel reassigns more police to street duty after shooting death of Chicago girl

Hadiya Pendleton

January 31, 2013 8:25:44 PM PST
More police officers are being put on Chicago's streets after the shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton.

Following a violent start to 2013, and Pendleton's murder, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday plans to reassign 200 Chicago police officers from desk duty to patrol work.

"When any young person in our city is gunned down without reason," Emanuel said, "their death makes an impression on all of us."

Emanuel admits, though, adding more police officers to the street is just a small part of the solution. He said values, gun laws and programs for kids should all be part of the discussion.

Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy met at police headquarters Thursday morning to address Chicago's growing homicide rate in the wake of the girl's death. Then they announced the new anti-violence initiative to reassign hundreds of police officers to street duty.

"Public safety is our top priority and that's why 200 officers are returning from office responsibility to the critical goal of preventing violence," McCarthy said. "That's what they were hired to do, and that's what we expect them to do."

Friends, family and supporters gathered Thursday evening at a fundraiser for the Pendleton family.

Nate Pendleton has been hearing from people around the country in the wake of the shooting death of his daughter Hadiya.

"It means a lot, keeps me sane," he said.

Police said earlier that the victim and her friends were good kids and were not the intended target in the gang-related shooting at Vivian Gordon Harsh Park.

Pendleton was with friends Tuesday after school let out early for finals. Police say a suspect ran toward the group and fired several shots-- leaving Pendleton dead and one other teen injured.

As the gunfire broke out Tuesday afternoon, a surveillance camera captured video of several young people fleeing the scene.

Police arrived moments later and found Pendleton had been fatally shot.

When she was in 6th grade at Carter G. Woodson Elementary School on the South Side, Hadiya Pendleton appeared in an anti-gang violence video.

"So many children out there are in gangs, and it is your job as students to say no to gangs and yes to your future," Hadiya says in the video.

The 15-year-old King College Prep majorette was gunned down in a North Kenwood park by an unknown gunman Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities believe the shooter was protecting his territory, possibly mistaking the group of innocent teens for a rival gang.

Pendleton's death has sparked outrage and attracted attention both locally and nationally. She has become a symbol of increasing Chicago violence and has become a part of the national debate on guns.

In the wake of her death, Thursday morning, Emanuel and McCarthy announced that 200 police officers will be reassigned from desk duty to patrol work. Their replacements will be civilians.

Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields says the move is not the solution, and the police union is re-emphasizing that hiring more officers is the best way.

"This is classic Emanuel administration policing by press conference, and you know what, this is not working," said Shields.

Wednesday, the White House expressed sorrow about the deadly shooting.

"It's a terrible tragedy anytime a young person is struck down with so much of their life ahead of them, and we see it far too often," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "The president and first lady's thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton."

Emanuel visited Pendleton's family Wednesday night, spending an hour with her parents and classmates. McCarthy met Pendleton's family at the scene of the shooting.

"We cannot let the offender get away with this senseless tragedy," McCarthy said Wednesday.

Pendleton's family is focused on mourning and laying her to rest. They say they trust police will find the killer.

A reward of $24,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of Pendleton's killer.