Knocking On Gang Leaders’ Doors Helps Stem Violence: Chicago’s McCarthy


When 14-year-old Venzel Richardson was shot to death in Chicago this month, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy ordered his staff to draw up a list of warring gang leaders in the area, says the Chicago Sun-Times. Within 48 hours, a commander was knocking on their doors, warning them to halt the shooting. Commander Glenn Evans told the young men they'd face stiff prison terms for their next violent crime. They also were given a contact for job training and other social services.

No one has been charged with the teenager's Feb. 12 murder, but the conflict between the gangs ebbed. These “custom notifications,” which began as a pilot program about seven months ago, appear to have persuaded the targeted groups to stop shooting at each other, said Commander John Kenney of the police department's Bureau of Organizational Development. More than 50 people have been visited in six police districts. Even though most of the men have long criminal records, none has been arrested for a violent felony since a police commander knocked on his door. And none is suspected in a shooting. “I'm optimistic this could be an effective method to put a wet blanket on something that's taking off,” McCarthy said.

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