Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis is taking an unconventional approach to gang violence. Law enforcement is applying direct pressure to top gang leaders in an effort to decrease gang related violence.
There was a secret meeting with west side gang leaders, primarily from the Traveling Vice Lords gang at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Weis and federal prosecutors told the leaders that they would be held accountable for violence committed by their members.
“They did not like the idea at all, because they realized something one of their colleagues may do could lead to a lot of pressure on them,” Weis said. “That’s what we tried to emphasize: This is group responsibility, group accountability. So you’re a leader, you’d better influence your guys to behave.” Criticism comes not from the message but from the method. Although Weis insisted the meeting did not constitute an effort to try to negotiate with gangs, having the meeting over snacks and beverages rubs many the wrong way.
Gov. Pat Quinn said today that he does not support the Chicago Police Superintendents efforts to meet privately with gang leaders.” In my opinion, I don’t think that’s the way to go,” Quinn said of last month’s meeting between Weis and a handful of gang leaders. “I think a better way to go is to take on the assault weapons used by gangs to terrorize neighborhoods.”
Yesterday Mayor Daley likened the idea to the negotiations between war combatants.
“It’s a good concept. You’ll sit down with anyone,” Daley said. “We’ll negotiate after the Second World War. We’ll negotiate with anyone to have peace. Even during the war. So you sit down with anyone. If you can save one life, if I can save your son’s life, you’d want me to sit down with them,” the mayor said.