8 killed in Chicago weekend violence; Emanuel to increase police patrols

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Police Department will increase patrols following a violent weekend in the city. Eight people were murdered, including a teenager who played basketball in St. Sabina's Peace League, over the weekend.

Chicago police said that over the three-day period of Friday to Sunday, seven people were fatally shot and another was stabbed to death. Dozens of other people were shot.

Deionte Harris, 18, a graduate of Bogan High School who had just enrolled at Olive-Harvey College, was shot to death at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on 84th and Hermitage. He had played basketball for St. Sabina's Peace League the night before.

"He was in all types of tournaments. He loved playing basketball. He was in the AAU team. He played ball for Bogan," Karen Howard, Harris' aunt, said.

"I'm in church preaching yesterday how we have to do whatever we have to do to save our children. And while I'm talking about it, somebody is being snatched," Father Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, said.

After reaching a low in 2014, gun violence in Chicago is once again on the rise. At least 57 more people have been killed so far this year than last. In an effort to curb the violence, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said 319 police officers will be reassigned from desk duty to the streets as part of his 2016 city budget. Those spots will be filled by civilians.

"Chicago will never turn its back on its own children. We are better than that," Mayor Emanuel said Monday morning.

Adam Collins, a spokesman for the mayor's office, said the plan was expected to cost $20 million and had already been accounted for in the 2016 budget recommendation. The office said the civilian employees will work as crossing guard supervisors, nurses, freedom of open information officers and other positions that are now filled by police offices.

"While we have made important strides to refocus our resources in the past four years, there are still a number of highly trained police officers doing administrative work," the mayor said in a statement. "So we asked a simple question of officers filling administrative roles: Do you need a gun, a star and arrest powers to do your job?"

Since Emanuel took office in 2011, the police department under Superintendent Garry McCarthy has moved other officers from desk jobs to street duty. With Emanuel's blessing and the city's checkbook, tens of millions of dollars have been spent to dispatch officers by the hundreds to work overtime in high-crime neighborhoods, parks and other spots around the city.

The results in 2013 and 2014 were promising. After the number of homicides spiked past the 500 mark in 2012, the total dropped to 419 in 2013 and 407 last year. But department statistics show homicides have spiked to 343 so far this year - 57 more than at the same point last year. The number of shooting incidents climbed to 1,753 so far this year, or nearly 300 more than in the same period last year.

Chicago is one of several U.S. cities, including Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Milwaukee, which have seen spikes in the number of homicides. But Chicago has been at the center of the story of gun violence, particularly since homicides climbed past the 500 mark - far higher than the totals reported in the much larger cities of New York and Los Angeles.

And just this year, film director Spike Lee tackled the subject of gun violence in the city when he came to film a movie titled "Chiraq."

Emanuel plans to introduce the budget on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.
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