Chicago Fast Becoming Undisputed ‘Gang Capital Of America,’ Needs More Police On Streets

“Illinois is number one per capita in gang membership for population. We have more gang members in our state, it is a long-term economic threat to our future.”

-U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), in a phone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that appeared on their website on March 15, 2013

Last Thursday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled the “Chicago Plays” Playground Program, where the Chicago Park District will rebuild, repair, and refurbish 300 playgrounds in neighborhoods across the city over the next five years using capital funds.

On Saturday, the Mayor announced more city dollars will be used to develop seven targeted Chicago neighborhoods through a new “Opportunity Planning” initiative.

Now, these sound like terrific projects. However, as Chicago is increasingly-seen as being a “war zone” these days, posing a real threat to the local economy (tourism, businesses) and the retention of residents, wouldn’t it make more sense that municipal funds are concentrated on combating violent crime first?

A serious effort to address the manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department is probably a good place to start, with more cops on the streets (paid via overtime) possibly contributing to the historically-low number of murders in Chicago last month.

Otherwise, should crime be allowed to run rampant, the proposed developments may end up being pointless and those rebuilt, repaired, refurbished playgrounds might be empty, save for some gangbangers watching over their turf.

And Chicago has plenty of those around these days.

Consider the following from the website of Chicago Crime Commission, an independent, non-partisan, civic watchdog organization of business leaders dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of organized criminal activity, especially organized crime and street gangs. Talking about their recent publication, The Gang Book 2012, a comprehensive compilation of data and information concerning street gangs in the Chicagoland area, the Commission said:

There are an estimated 70 to 100 gangs in the Chicago metropolitan area with a membership of between 68,000 to over 150,000.

“Over 150,000”

Back on March 2, 2011, I blogged about DEA and local law enforcement estimates of there being over 100,000 gang members and 75 to 100 street gangs in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Speaking of the Commission and their book, there’s this from Wikipedia:

The newly released Chicago Crime Commission publication, “The Gang Book 2012”, conveyed the statistic that Chicago has more gang members than any other city in the United States: 150,000 members. Traditionally Los Angeles County has been considered the Gang Capital of America, with an estimated 120,000 (41,000 in the City) gang members.

Chicago has a higher rate of gang membership per capita than Los Angeles. The state of Illinois has a higher rate of gang membership (8-11 gang members per 1,000 population) than California (5-7 gang members per 1,000 population).

Sounds like Chicago is making good progress in wrenching away the title of “Gang Capital of America” from L.A.

I hear it being said more and more these days:

Chicago has a gang problem, not a gun problem.

I have a feeling City Hall realizes this already- but won’t take significant action on it for a number of reasons.

In which case, Chicago should prepare itself for becoming the undisputed “Gang Capital of America,” and eventually realizing that economic threat- among others- which Senator Kirk warned about.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Survival And Prosperity
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA
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