Daley Plan to Combat Violence Includes More Cops, Money
Mayor Daley today threw more money and police bodies at a daunting problem no closer to being solved than at any time during his 20-year tenure: the bloodbath on Chicago streets that’s destroying another generation of young people.
The videotape replayed around the world of 16-year-old Fenger High School student Derrion Albert being beaten to death during a brawl by students from rival neighborhoods has captured the attention of political leaders like so many other youth murders before it.
Each time, Daley follows a now-familiar script: He summons police and school officials to a high-level meeting, then unveils a scatter-shot program that’s part police, part mentoring and part jobs and social-services.
Today, the pattern was repeated. Only this time, Daley is hoping the results will be different.
“This time, people are maybe looking in the mirrors and figuring out it’s all of our problems,” the mayor told a news conference at the Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center, 1060 E. 47th St.
“The difference is, maybe it’s striking home [with] more and more people. … I hope this video maybe shocked people. But, it shouldn’t shock people. One death of a child is one too many.”
The mayor’s latest plan includes:
• Assigning 148 police officers in 78 vehicles to cover mass transit routes and CTA stations before and after schools. Particular attention will be paid to the 95th Street Bus Terminal, where students from multiple high schools converge.
• Using federal stimulus funds to bankroll three hours of daily overtime for 44 officers who will extend their shifts to coincide with school dismissal times.
• Using $1 million in proceeds from the $1.15 billion parking meter lease to fund 500 jobs and other after-school programs for young people, including those those most “at-risk” who agree to return to school or enroll in a GED program.
• Forging a new partnership with the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago to place 100 students in short-term jobs in impoverished communities.
• Expanding to three more “at-risk” neighborhoods a Community Intervention Program that helped to reduce crime in Englewood this summer.
• Moving up the timetable of Schools CEO Ron Huberman’s $30 million school violence plan targeting the 1,200 students most likely to be shot. By the end of November, 200 of those students will get mentoring and educational support, social services and jobs in their neighborhoods.
Conspicuously absent is a change in attendance boundaries demanded by Far South Side Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th) and Carrie Austin (34th).
They want the Board of Education to either convert a shuttered Carver Middle School into a high school for kids from Altgeld Gardens or allow Altgeld kids to go to Carver Military Academy without testing in.
“The day that the city of Chicago decides to divide schools by gang territory, that’s the day we have given up the city. The day I tell a child that, since you live north of this street, you can’t go to school south of that street … that is the day you have given up on society. And I will never give that up,” Daley said.
Chicago Police have stressed that Derrion’s death was not gang-related. He was killed during a brawl between students from Altgeld and a neighborhood closer to Fenger known as the “Ville.”
In the two weeks since Derrion’s death, nine school buses have been ferrying Altgeld kids to Fenger to ensure their safety.
Austin was standing behind the mayor when Daley drew a line in the sand on the issue of school boundaries. Afterward, she said, “He may not understand the dynamics of what we’re saying. We’re just asking for a part of [Carver] to be open enrollment.”
Beale added, “We need to open up a school in Altgeld as soon as possible. …We have an empty grammar there. We can open that up into a high school as well as partition Carver and put two schools in Carver. That building is so under-utilized, it’s unbelievable.”
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