Why is Chicago struggling with gun violence? N.Y. might have answers.
In some ways, Chicago and New York City are taking similar paths to combat gun violence. But New York has gotten a handle on gangs – and that might be the big difference.
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The state of New York faces a similar problem. Some 84 percent of gun crimes were carried out with guns purchased over the state border, according to the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.Skip to next paragraph
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“Coordination [of gun laws] is a big problem, not just because there are so many different philosophies of government, but also because of the nuts and bolts of enforcement,” says Harold Pollack, a co-director of the University of Chicago lab.
What does separate Chicago from New York City is its gang activity. Chicago leads the country in terms of the number of individuals who are direct gang members or involved in gang factions, which are splinter groups associated with larger criminal organizations. There are an estimated 70 to 100 gangs in the Chicago metropolitan area with a membership of between 68,000 and 150,000, according to the 2012 Chicago Crime Commission. New York gang membership is about 22,000, reports the National Gang Intelligence Center in 2009.
Professor Fox of Northeastern says Chicago has a larger minority underclass and harsher socioeconomic conditions than New York City, which makes it difficult to compare the homicide rates of both cities.
“They’re different cities, they’re different in terms of demography, they’re different geographically,” he says. “These are big factors.”
But in October, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced “Operation Crew Cut,” which doubled the size of its gang division from 150 to 300 detectives. It is indicative of how New York has become a national leader in taking on gangs, experts say.
“One of the most interesting stories in policing is why New York has not experienced gang problems to the extent that other cities like Chicago and L.A. have,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Foundation Forum, told ABC News. “Kelly's recognition of this emerging issue of gang activity in New York and his comprehensive approach using social media will be watched closely.”
Representatives from the Chicago Police Department did not respond to numerous e-mails and phone messages seeking interviews Friday.
For now, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced he is reassigning 200 officers from desk duties to street patrols of the city’s West and South Sides, where gun violence is highest. That is in addition to the 500 new officers he wants hired in 2013.
Last month, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg swore in 830 recruits.