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Police Turn To Tech To Fight Crime In Chicago's Most Violent Neighborhoods

By Heather Cherone | January 27, 2017 5:14pm | Updated on January 31, 2017 11:43am
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Supt. Eddie Johnson tour the Strategic Decision Support Center at the Engelwood Police District Headquarters.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Supt. Eddie Johnson tour the Strategic Decision Support Center at the Engelwood Police District Headquarters.
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Mayor's Office

ENGLEWOOD — The neighborhoods that make up the Harrison and Englewood police districts on Chicago's West and South sides are home to about 5 percent of the city's population — but nearly a quarter of all crimes in Chicago take place there, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday.

To fight that crime — which has soared in the last year — Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said officers assigned to patrol those neighborhoods will be the first in the city to use technology designed to prevent gun violence from happening — and to lock up criminals fast.

"This will allow officers to focus on the right people at the right time," Johnson said, before falling ill at the end of the news conference.

By expanding the Shotspotter program that detects gunshots to cover the entire districts and increasing the number of cameras keeping watch from the sky, officers will be able to monitor crime — and track trends — in real time and redeploy officers quickly, Johnson said.

The two police districts accounted for more than a third of the increase in homicides during 2016 compared to 2015.

That data will be fed into a Strategic Decision Support Centers at each district's headquartersfor analysis, and crucial information will be sent to officers in the field via smartphone or in-car computer, Johnson said.

A grant from the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation allowed the district to buy another 150 phones, Johnson said.

Those centers will combine intelligence and officers' intuition in an effort to reduce response times by having officers in the right place at the right time," Emanuel said.

"Using all that information allows us to be all that much smarter and effective," Emanuel said, adding that he would eventually like to see the program expanded citywide — perhaps with financial assistance from the federal government.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted violence in Chicago, likening it to violence in Afghanistan in an interview and threatening to "send in the Feds!" in a tweet.

After surging in 2016, violence in Chicago has shown no sign of slowing down in the first weeks of 2017, with 40 people killed in the first 22 days of January.

Despite Trump's focus on Chicago, more than a dozen American cities have a higher per-capita murder rate.

An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department released Jan. 13 concluded the unconstitutional use of force by officers and a lack of accountability by the Chicago Police Department created a "deadly cycle" of violence that affected black and Latino Chicagoans disproportionately.

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