Chicago mayor touts violence prevention spending but some don't see results

About 26 areas in Chicago are in line for a share of $113 million in federal pass-through taxpayer funds for certain programs.

Published: August 23, 2022 8:39pm

Updated: August 24, 2022 12:29am

(The Center Square) -

Chicago was honored this week for its commitment to violence prevention programs. But an analyst notes that even with higher spending, violence continues to escalate.

The Community Justice Action Fund's inaugural City Violence Prevention Index ranked Chicago among the top cities in the nation for violence prevention programs.

The VPI scorecard assessed and ranked 50 U.S. cities with the highest incidents of gun violence in 2021 based on 35 criteria spanning three categories; intervention and risk factor reduction, addressing the root causes of violence, and local offices of violence prevention.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city has worked to fight the violence she said stems from years of systemic racism.

"This violence is rooted in decades of systemic racism as well as a disinvestment in our communities," Lightfoot said. "To combat this, we have taken innovative steps to address both the immediate and long-term consequences of violent crime."

Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said the programs are not resulting in safer communities.

"The question is, what is the correlation between these programs and the amount of violence on the streets," Dabrowski told The Center Square. "The crime is bad, even if the spending on the programs is high."

About 26 areas in Chicago are in line for a share of $113 million in federal pass-through taxpayer funds for certain programs.

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, was with Lightfoot and said the Community Justice Action Fund shows the city is taking the right steps.

"The gun violence we've seen in Chicago has been devastating, but Community Justice Action Fund's report shows that we are making some of the necessary changes to improve safety in our city for everyone," Kelly said.

Dabrowski said when you look at the statistics, the programs have not accomplished much.

"Today, those programs do not translate into reduced crime," Dabrowski said. "Right now, crime is up 37% when compared to last year."

Over the past two years, Chicago Police Department statistics show violent crimes have increased 27%.

The Community Justice Action Fund's recognition comes nearly a year after Lightfoot announced the city's Community Safety Coordination Center, a multi-agency coordination center to drive violence reduction.

Dabrowski said the inaugural award helps block out the news of what's actually happening on the streets of Chicago.

"It's a complete distraction to what is happening on the ground," Dabrowski said. "This movement to no bail is scary for a lot of people, the continued increase in carjackings, up 59% from last year."

Beginning Jan. 1, Illinois will implement no cash bail law for certain crimes.

A recent Wirepoints report shows that car theft has nearly tripled over the last three years. At its current run rate, Chicago will hit 1,960 carjacking incidents in 2022. In 2019, Chicago had a baseline of 603 carjacking reports.

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