The Chicago homicide total has jumped to 399 homicides this year compared with 313 during the same period last year, and shootings are up 10 percent, says the Chicago Tribune. In response, authorities have flooded some areas with more police and partnered with a controversial violence prevention group. Police also have been pushing another weapon to fight the violence — neighborhood block clubs, said Cmdr. Ronald Holt, director of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program. These small groups of residents can help police stay on top of rising neighborhood tensions or drug activity that sometimes lead to shootings.
“Block clubs force residents to take ownership of their community,” Holt said. “You can’t sit idly behind your curtains and watch and want the drug dealers to leave. Help us help you.” There were 463 block clubs registered last year, and this year the department has been working to establish 300 new clubs. While police say the groups help, crime remains on the rise. Simply looking at crime data doesn’t tell the full story, said Roseanna Ander of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, which studies anticrime strategies. Crime and violence are complicated and multifaceted phenomena, and there is no one intervention or magic strategy that would end it. Still, block clubs help make residents willing to intervene in threatening situations, she said.