Chicago cops make good on threat to gang-bangers
October 28, 2010

CHICAGO — There’s nothing like a promise kept — particularly when it could save lives.

In August, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis told West Side gang leaders in a face-to-face meeting that police and prosecutors would respond with all their “firepower” if any gang member was involved in a murder.

The entire gang, he warned, would suffer for one member’s sin.

This controversial but pragmatic approach has a track record, resulting in big drops in murder in Boston and Cincinnati, among other places. In Cincinnati, gang murders have dropped 40 percent since 2007.

Critics dismiss this as negotiating with gang-bangers, but we think it’s smart. The strategy is backed by research, rooted in common sense, and in too many Chicago neighborhoods, we see no alternative.

But to really work, law enforcement must deliver. And so far, they appear to be doing just that.

Two weeks after Weis’ August sit-down, an 18-year-old man was gunned down, allegedly by a member of the Black Souls. Since then, police have arrested 60 Black Souls or associates, mostly for drug offenses but also for one murder.

Next, police plan another sit-down with gang leaders, followed by a few more rounds of firepower — all to show them they aren’t playing.

We know this approach won’t rid the city of gangs or murder. But it’s worth a go because it’s designed with real people in mind.

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