Mayor Lori Lightfoot touts national recognition of Chicago's violence prevention programs

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that her administration's efforts to reduce violence are working.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that Chicago has been investing in ways to prevent gun violence in the city, and she said it's playing a role in a downward trend in crime that's now being recognized by a national advocacy group.

It comes after 37 people were shot in Chicago last weekend, including a 6-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy.

The city's violence problem has become political fodder during an election year. In an attempt to change the narrative, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her administration's efforts to reduce violence are working.

WATCH | Mayor Lightfoot, Rep. Kelly on Chicago's gun violence prevention efforts

"We rank 3rd among 50 U.S. cities for violence prevention programs, services and policies," Lightfoot said. "And this, to us, is a very big deal, we are grateful for the recognition,"

The recognition comes from a national organization, the Community Action Fund.

The mayor said the program she started a year ago uses what she calls "a holistic approach" using multiple government agencies to focus on 15 of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods. And, she said it's starting to pay off.

"Take, for example, the West Side," Lightfoot said. "We have seen significant -- 20-30% -- declines in shootings and homicides on the West Side Area 4, which historically has been the most violent area in our city."

And the mayor says homicides and shootings are down by 18% in the city, compared to last year. But one of her biggest critics in City Hall doesn't buy it.

"There is not a person in the city yet that believes that narrative," 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale said.

Beale said crime is up in his far South Side ward after police resources were diverted to other parts of the city.

"You are not going to change people's perception going into an election, thinking things are OK in the city," Beale said. "They are not, when we are still short of 2,000 police in the city of Chicago."

The mayor insists the city's traditional approach of throwing more police resources is only a short-term fix.

Lightfoot is convinced her holistic and hyper-local approach to violence will continue to pay off in the long run. The question is: will it be in time for next year's mayoral election?