CHICAGO, March 9, 2013 ― Rahm Emanuel’s $3 million anti-violence program was supposed to defuse Chicago’s exploding murder rate. But has it? Despite the PR spin from the Mayor’s office, the numbers don’t lie.
In summer 2012, the glare of the national spotlight was on
It still is.
So Mayor Emanuel signed a three year multi-million dollar contract with CeaseFire, the anti-violence group made up of ex-cons, to “interrupt” violence in
Under the controversial CeaseFire “model,” workers attempt to mitigate or “interrupt” violence on the street before it turns violent. Because many of the “workers” are ex-gang members, the group argues that it has street credibility to mediate that police officers don’t.
But, according to numbers released this week, that model appears to be failing.
From October through February,
The figures represent a zero sum with little to no improvement in these areas.
Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire Chicago, says that there were no homicides in beats where CeaseFire worked in Woodlawn in January and February of this year. But a review of EveryBlock source data also indicates that there were no murders in Woodlawn for the same period last year.
Citywide, January posted the highest murder rates in a decade. But desperate city officials touted February numbers, which dropped to 14 homicides, down from 29 last year.
Little of this is good news for Emanuel or Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who continue to face mounting criticism for the city’s high murder rates.
In November, a ranking police official expressed “buyer’s remorse” over the CeaseFire contract and said the group had no “significant success stories.” The source also said police were not receiving reports from CeaseFire on their mediations.
“You can’t wait two weeks later and tell us, ‘Oh yeah, we intervened in that.’ We need specifics and time lines,” said the source, who requested anonymity.
From 2004 to 2006, CeaseFire received more than $16 million in funds, including $11 million from the State of
Later in 2007, the group lost all of its state funding after an Illinois audit determined that CeaseFire had failed to account for the millions of dollars it had spent over a three-year period.
The group’s reliance on ex-cons represents a serious problem for law enforcement. In the past six years, six CeaseFire workers have been charged with crimes.
A Black Disciples gang member, Rodney “Hot Rod” Phillips, was caught selling heroin and charged with drug dealing. Phillips was on CeaseFire’s payroll from 2009 through May 2011.
“Interrupters” earn anywhere between $30,000 to $45,000 to mediate “conflicts.”
Harold Martinez, another street worker for CeaseFire in 2007, was caught selling cocaine to a gang member-turned-FBI-informant and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
CeaseFire representatives say that those charged with crimes represent less than 2 percent of their work force. But the practice continues to concern Chicago police, who say the millions of dollars being given to CeaseFire would be better spent hiring more cops.
In the 1970s and 1980s,
Since 2004, Ceasefire has received more than $20 million in state and federal funds to “interrupt” violence. Whether taxpayers will receive more bang for their buck this time around remains to be seen.
William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. He is a native from
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