Faced with a surge in homicides, Chicago has taken the unprecedented step of giving the anti-violence group CeaseFire a $1 million grant in hopes an organization staffed largely by ex-felons can help police curtail summer violence, the Chicago Tribune reports. It’s an unlikely marriage that has both sides wary. CeaseFire workers have always kept police at arm’s length as they mediated potentially violent disputes among gangs. Many police officers long have been suspicious of a group whose “violence interrupters” are often former gang members.
A source said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, frustrated by the rise in violence in the city, called a meeting in early May and pushed the police and CeaseFire to come to an agreement. “The mayor told them to figure this out, because police can’t do it alone,” the source said. “We know that CeaseFire has had some success.” The city made a preliminary announcement of the deal at the end of May. Under a one-year pilot program laid out by city officials Tuesday, CeaseFire will hire 40 workers who will be assigned to two police districts. “The amount of gun violence in our city is simply unacceptable,” First Deputy Police Superintendent Alfonza Wysinger said. “We’re not talking about numbers. We’re talking about people.”