Several Chicago public schools that need extra attention will see an increased security presence starting March 24, in an effort to halt the surge in violence that claimed two students this month, police superintendent Jody Weis said Tuesday at St. Sabina
Since the 2007-2008 school year started Sept. 4, 18 Chicago Public Schools students have been killed. Sixteen of those deaths were by gun violence. The most recent death was of a Crane Tech High School student.
Weis said that at least 30 officers from the Targeted Response Unit (TRU) would be out at several “problem” schools for the remainder of this week to pad the existing police patrol. When school resumes after next week’s spring break, about 50 officers currently in administrative roles will be put out on the streets near the schools for additional support.
The superintendent would not identify the three to five schools, citywide, that would see the extra police presence. “That would be tipping our hand by naming the schools. We will not do that. We don’t want to give them any lead time,” Weis said. The schools were chosen based on incidents tracked throughout the school year.
But more police at area schools does not convince some parents that incidents like the one near Crane last week would make a difference. “All of this could have been prevented. Every day the cops are on the corners that surround Crane. They could’ve walked to that crowd and broke it up. What are they there for?” Emily Green, mother of Ruben Ivy angrily asked as she cried.
Ivy was gunned down steps away from the school last Friday during a melee that also injured another student. Green said instead of the officers standing around watching what is going on and talking to their partners, they should be doing their job. Chicago police said their response to the situation at Crane was timely and would investigate any allegations of improper response by officers at the scene. “The police are there to protect the children.
It only takes a split second for an illegal gun in the hands of the wrong person to cause fatal harm. Unfortunately the police cannot be everywhere all the time. If there was a student who was seeking police protection, police would not deny that student protection,” Monique Bond, spokesperson for the police said. While more security will be stepped up at some schools, Chicago Public Schools said the schools are safe.
This is not a Crane issue or a school issue, it’s a gun issue. “None of this violence happens in the school,” Arne Duncan, chief executive officer of CPS said. Duncan said the United States “values the right to bear arms more than the right to protect our children,” and stiffer gun legislation is what’s needed. “We know what it takes, but we lack the political courage to get it done,” he said. Mayor Richard M. Daley agreed.
“This is not a school issue, it’s a society issue. Guns don’t settle any issue in our homes and in the community,” Daley said, adding that it’s time to be realistic and for the community to come together and help solve the gun problem. “We can tell people they can’t smoke, but there’s no outrage about guns. We just live in a violent society.
I hope we’re not immune [to it],” he said. Outrage and community action immediately after each child is killed is what Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina said would happen after he announced that a $5,000 “bounty” would be offered to apprehend each assailant every time a young person is slain. “Let’s get the killer of our children.
Take that danger out of the community. We can’t just shake our heads, we have to fight back,” the South Side pastor said. Duncan said CPS would add $2,500 each time a student is killed to the “Saving Our Youth” fund started by St. Sabina. “This reward is so all parents will know that their child is as valuable as the previous one that was killed.
No parent should have to feel as though their child’s life is worth less because their story got less media play,” Pfleger said. Besides the reward being offered, a vigil will be outside of the State of Illinois building downtown from 11 a.m. to noon the next day after each child is killed. The vigils hope to pressure state legislators to pass common sense gun laws.
After the vigils, a picture of the victim will be put up in the Chicago Temple building across from the Daley Center for a week. To donate to the “Saving Our Youth” reward fund, contact St. Sabina at 773-483-4300 or any Chase Bank branch.
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