Taxpayers have shelled out $13 million over three years to a Chicago group noted for its crime-fighting, but new questions have surfaced about whether the investment has paid off, says the Chicago Sun-Times. A state audit questioned CeaseFire’s effectiveness and why nearly $264,000 in expenditures couldn’t be accounted for. The findings come a week after Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed $6.25 million in funding for the group, which uses ex-gang members to resolve conflicts.
Auditor General William Holland said no state standards are in place to measure CeaseFire’s work. From 2001 to 2005 in one Chicago district, he found shootings dropped by 70 percent and 73 percent in two police beats where CeaseFire was active. Yet, seven of the district’s 15 beats saw greater drops. Holland found the same trend in two other districts. A Chicago Police spokeswoman said: “While CeaseFire has made progress in delivering their message on anti-violence, the department has no concrete evidence their programs have contributed to the reduction of crime in the city.” CeaseFire director Gary Slutkin disagreed. “We’ve been doing what the intent of the General Assembly is, which is reduce shootings, make neighborhoods safer, get residents involved and get very high-risk people into a better life.”