Hundreds of Chicago police officers will exchange paperwork for foot patrols in an attempt to quell violence that has resulted in a 12.7 percent increase in homicides this year, the Chicago Tribune reports. Groups of 70 to 80 officers assigned to administrative duties will hit the streets for a week at a time throughout the summer to crime hot-spots, said police superintendent Jody Weis. There were 177 slayings in the first five months, compared with 157 for the same period in 2007. Robbery rose 10.2 percent, though criminal sexual assault dropped by 12.7 percent.
More specialized units will be deployed to combat drug and gang activity. Stings will take aim at street-level drug conspiracies that lead to gang retaliation and violence, and gang, gun and tactical teams will work with detectives to share intelligence and carry out joint missions in conflict areas. The department will set up roadside stops to check for seat belt use and conduct random vehicle inspections for drugs and weapons. Police will conduct weekend roll calls on the streets, complete with squad-car sirens and flashing blue lights. Specialized units such as the SWAT team will be deployed in full battle dress. “When people see police officers in uniform like this, it sends a message,” Weis said. “I’ll admit they are a little intimidating and they do have more of a military presence, but if that will cause people to disperse an area or maybe not engage in criminal activity, I’m willing to send that message.”