Foxx: CPD arrests the wrong people to curb shootings


As Chicago cops face an annual increase in gun violence in the summer and try to curb a wave of shooting that began more than a year ago, the Cook County State Attorney’s Office Kim Foxx challenges one of the city’s main policing strategies.

The Foxx office held this week a webinar for journalists with data visualizations of a steadily increasing Chicago police arrests of people who have never been convicted but are caught illegally carrying a gun. It is an approach that brought over 1,400 people into the criminal justice system last year. Those who are convicted are given a label that reduces employment and life prospects and arguably decreases long-term public safety.

“The evidence does not show that the drivers of the violence are the people who have been arrested for non-violent firearms offenses,” wrote Sarah Sinovic, spokesperson for the office, referring to the illegal possession of fire arms. “State Attorney Foxx has long said we need to invest more in violence prevention and a more holistic approach to addressing the root causes of violence. “

Illinois prohibits the possession of firearms without a valid ID of the owner of a firearm. Even with a FOID, people carrying guns in vehicles should keep them unloaded if they are accessible in places like the glove box or under a seat.

According to data visualizations posted by the Foxx office during the webinar, CPD firearm arrests have nearly doubled since 2014. This increase is mainly due to arrests for possession of firearms, a crime the Foxx office has reported. considered “non-violent” because the weapon is not used or fired.

Matthew Saniie, the office’s data manager, acknowledged that people who view firearms as inherently violent may find it difficult to treat their illegal possession as non-violent. But prosecutors, he said, “do not know if this person who possesses the weapon intends to use this weapon illegally beyond possession or if it will create violence with it. it”.

“It’s an important distinction,” said Saniie.

A graph displayed by the Foxx office suggests that the increase in arrests for possession of weapons by the CPD is mainly due to arrests on the streets of people without previous convictions. From 2011 to 2016, these arrests never exceeded 300 per year. Every year since then, however, has brought a sharp increase. In 2020, there were over 1,400 and Saniie said the DPC is on track to surpass that number this year.

CPD arrest numbers for violent gun crime, meanwhile, tends to decline over the years, according to the presentation. The same is true of the speed at which the CPD resolves shootings.

Saniie even criticized the CPD’s efforts to seize guns – efforts that reported 11,343 guns in 2020 and 5,148 this year through Friday, according to the department.

“That’s a pretty staggering number,” Saniie said, “but less than 20% of these guns are related to one type of shot.”

Saniie concluded that the arrests that accompany these arms recoveries sweep too many people who are not fueling the violence in the city: “It’s about arresting the right people.

Addressing the impact of these arrests, Saniie said that “many people will forever be marked as criminals. [end up with] different life choices because of it.

He also said felony convictions can have long-term impacts on families and communities: “That’s the concern of all this policing.”

“This idea of ​​constantly throwing the police at the problem to solve gun violence may not continue to bear fruit,” Saniie said during the presentation.

To curb a wave of gun violence that began in 2016, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration expanded the CPD to nearly 1,300 officers in 2017 and 2018, bringing sworn ranks to more than 13,400 police officers, according to data from the city.

Saniie said the current wave of gun violence raises questions about this approach. The push began last spring after the first weeks of the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

“Are we going back to the methods that we have used for so long and that have helped us get there?” Or are we starting to think about new methodologies to deal with these issues, to try to break the cycle? “

WBEZ has sent the CPD written questions as to whether the firearm arrest data is accurate and whether the Superintendent. David Brown agrees the department’s gun arrest strategy is failing in the face of city violence. The ministry did not respond with answers.

“These are conversions he had with the state attorney in private and confidentiality,” said Tom Ahern, a spokesperson for the department. “I can’t tell you what the superintendent is thinking.”

Foxx itself opened and closed the webinar but did not specify any political implications for the data.

“What we wanted to do,” said Foxx, “is be able to have nuanced conversations about what drives the violence.”

Mitchell chip WBEZ’s West Side studio reports on the police. Follow him on @ ChipMitchell1. Contact him at [email protected].

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