BARCC Leadership

President & Commercial Development Liaison
Mell Monroe

Records Chair & Condominium Liaison Director
Angela Higginbotham-Monroe

Advisor, Marketing Liaison
Jim Oliver

Marketing & Brand Development Liaison
James Coxworth

Culinary Arts & Events Liaison
Chef Cliff Rome

Chicago's Violent Crime is Out of Control – Take a page out of history and NYC

Commentary by Mell Monroe, Bronzeville resident and BARCC president
March 2, 2016

Chicago's crime situation is getting worse every day. People are purchasing firearms and everyone feels threatened. These present day factors remind me of the Al Capone years in the 1920's and 1930's when homicides and criminal activity ran amok. Something profound and innovative needs to be done. I believe we need a comprehensive solution involving a complete overhaul of the Chicago Police Department, active engagement by our public officials and a modern version of the “Secret Six”. Only with a multi-faceted comprehensive effort will we be able to restore the faith and confidence of the public in the continued vitality of Chicago.

City leaders need to take out a page from Chicago's tainted past to address our problem with violent crimes. In 1931, a group known as The Secret Six was formed consisting of six influential businessmen in Chicago who organized the business community against Al Capone. Very little is known of their operations, mandated as they were to be secret, mainly because members of the committee did not want to reveal their names. They provided funds to execute the tax evasion that eventually put Al Capone behind bars and shut down gangster activities. According to Wikipedia, the work of the Secret Six handled 595 cases, aided in 55 convictions, with sentences totaling 428 years. Fines of $11,525 had been paid, and they recovered $605,000 in bonds and $52,280 in merchandise. The Secret Six handled 25 kidnapping and extortion cases in which nine convictions were made. Elliot Ness was hired as a special commission to fight the overwhelming amount of crime in Chicago. In his book, The Untouchables, Eliot Ness says these six men were able to accomplish what three thousand police and three hundred prohibition agents had failed miserably to achieve.

There is a general feeling of apathy about crime, particularly among the police and public officials, including African Americans who reside in the city limits. Wikipedia describes apathy as a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, and concern. Apathy is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and/or passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and/or physical life and the world. The apathetic may lack a sense of purpose or meaning in life. An apathetic person may also be described as a result of the individual feeling they do not possess the level of skill required to confront a challenge. The growing rate of crime in Chicago is intensifying well beyond Black neighborhoods and its effect will interfere with tourism and the world's perception of America's 3rd largest city.

What will each of us do about the growing rate of crime throughout Chicago especially among African American neighborhoods where everyone suffers most? Before complaining and criticizing the faults of the police and our public leaders and doing nothing, what facts do you really know about crime and Chicago's response to it?


1) In the first two months of 2016, Chicago has experienced a 100% increase in the number of shootings vs last year. Over the last 3 year, Chicago has seen 200% more highway shootings than any other city in the U.S. Chicago police operate with a “needle in a hay-stack” because resources and funding support is conventionally applied and they are unable to do their jobs.

2) Research has demonstrated that less than .05% of the population of even the poorest neighborhoods in urban cities will actually be involved in gang-related activities; which suggest that only a small percentage of the resident population causes the serious problems that ultimately interfere with economic development, social activities, safe streets and the overall quality of life issues.

3) In the city of Chicago it is estimated that less than 20% of violent crime perpetrators are caught and prosecuted. This results in bad guys knowing that 80% of the time they will not be caught. Violent criminals continue to control and terrorize poor neighborhoods because they can.

4) NYC is using state of the art technologies to reduce violent crimes- and it's working. Google CompuStat 1 and 2 including smartphones and tablets have been launched to provide state of the art methodologies to effectively and efficiently conduct police work to solve crimes and prosecute offenders.

5) Almost 100 American cities in the U.S. are using Shotspotter technology to respond with a sense of urgency and preparedness to gunshots heard. Chicago officials claim that funds are unavailable to deploy state of the art resources because they don't leverage the power of crime reduction investors outside of CPD budgets.

6) NYC has 3 times the population of Chicago but has proportionately less violent crime. In January 2016 NYC had a record low number of violent crimes vs years 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

7) NYC has invested in numerous technology initiatives to empower police with tools to improve performance and has also created transparency avenues to share information with the public by Mayoral and Police Leadership teams. Chicago has had a notorious track record of doing only marginal work with no accountability.

8) Research has revealed that only 20% of gunshots heard by the public are actually reported to the police. There are many reasons for this, particularly in African American communities where they lose faith in the police showing up and doing real time investigative work.

9) Chicago Public Officials – including the Mayor, Police leadership and Aldermen do not know how to stop violent crime, instead relying on conventional and outdated methods and strategies, such as gun eradication, without seriously exploring what is being done successfully in over 100 cities throughout the U.S.

10) The city of Chicago, rather than CPD, agreed to influence Motorola to invest in 3 Shotspotter installations covering only 3 square miles in 2012 to detect gunshots within 33 feet of their occurrence. Despite rising violent crime rates, Chicago has not invested another penny in Shotspotter technology. CPD has never invested anything out of its own budget for gunshot detection technology despite its availability on the market for over a decade.

11) Chicago's longstanding CPD monitoring “blue lights” as installed in numerous neighborhoods throughout Chicago has only led to a documented 3 arrests associated with violent crime behavior since their inception. Over 130 Blue lights were installed almost 20 years ago.. Today the blue lights are often in disrepair and there seems to be no available information on whether they have been effective at reducing crime.

12) Residents who live and work in minority communities have lost faith in Chicago's approach to reducing crime; and many become apathetic to their conditions and will not take an active role in helping to police their communities following even major crimes, which means the police have no ability to handle lesser illegal activities

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