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Fardon makes suggestions on his way out the door

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2017

* ABC 7

The U.S. attorney in Chicago on Monday wrote two letters. First, Zachary Fardon penned a resignation letter. Then on the way out the door he handed out a five-page public letter that amounts to a roadmap of what’s wrong in Chicago and how to fix it.

In the “open letter,” that focuses on Chicago’s unrelenting street violence and seemingly out-of-control murders, Fardon states that “this is not war” and he discourages the call to use National Guard troopers in the city. He is calling for more law enforcement officers.

“We need to flood those neighborhoods with local and federal law enforcement officers” wrote Fardon. “Not just to arrest the bad guys but also to be standing on that corner where shots otherwise might get fired, to be breaking up those corner loiterers, and to be meeting and learning and knowing the kids, the people, and the truth of who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and who isn’t yet formed and can be swayed.”

The full letter is here. You should read it all.

* Let’s take a quick look

The long term is that Chicago has an entrenched gang problem in a limited number of neighborhoods on the south and west sides. For decades, those neighborhoods have been neglected. The reasons for that historic run of neglect are rooted in ugly truths about power, politics, race and racism that are a tragic part of our local and national history and heritage. And as a consequence of those ugly truths, and the neglect they brought, these neighborhoods stand wrought with poverty and inadequate schools, businesses, jobs and infrastructure. For many growing up in these neighborhoods, there is a sense of hopelessness, a belief cemented early in life that they’re not good enough for higher education and that they’ll never get good jobs. Gangs and guns are ubiquitous, and gangs fill the void created by that hopelessness; they teach kids crime and violence, and give kids protection, money, and a sense of belonging. That’s the long term reality, and long term challenge.

The short view is the surge in violence since January 2016. That surge started immediately on the heels of those 4 successive events I mentioned in late 2015: the release of the Laquan McDonald video; the initiation of the DOJ pattern and practice investigation; the firing of CPD’s Superintendent; and the beginning of that ACLU contract. Those things exploded a powder keg that didn’t change fundamentally the landscape of gun violence or law enforcement, but they poured gasoline on the tragic aspects of those realities and further polarized our officers and our community.

* Fardon said there should be more federal agents in the city, including from the FBI, DEA and ATF

Each is noble, talented and passionate about fighting crime. But here’s a hard truth: federal law enforcement can yield an improved impact on gun violence in this city by either folding those key federal agencies together into one agency, or as an alternative, assigning all their agents working on violent crime to one special task force with one mission and one leadership chain. Do that so that DEA isn’t limited to working dope cases, and ATF isn’t thinking only about gun trafficking, and no one is competing for credit on cases.

* No National Guard

Some people recently have said bring in the National Guard. If you care only about the short view, maybe there’s some attractiveness to that notion. But if you care about the long view – if you don’t want to be talking about “Chiraq” and “two Chicagos” ten and twenty years from now, then it’s an ill-conceived notion. What would a National Guard presence say to folks in those neighborhoods? This is war, and you are the enemy. The Chicago of bike paths and glistening lakefront, and economic opportunity – that’s not your Chicago, it’s ours and we will protect it.

This is not war. Wars are fought between enemies. There is only one enemy here, and it is us, all of us in Chicago. Every single one of us. We are the problem, and we are the solution. If we resort to wrongheaded measures, we might set ourselves back years, even decades in the long term fight.

* Do the consent decree

You can’t stop our brand of violence without a top-flight police department. And you can’t have a top-flight police department on the cheap. For decades, CPD has been run on the cheap. Officers don’t have the training, the supervision, the equipment, or culture they need and deserve. Our DOJ findings report lays that out.

* Create new “youth pathway centers, in the handful of most afflicted neighborhoods”

The vast majority of those kids will do the right thing if we help them find and figure out what that right thing looks like. So let’s find those kids, and let’s intervene, in a positive way, in their lives. Let’s engage them, and their parents, teachers, community leaders, and clergy. Let’s deter criminal behavior and incentive lawful behavior.

To do that, we should have a brick and mortar place, in each afflicted neighborhood, that is base, the home, the epicenter to that effort.

* And recognize that violent crime in these areas spreads like a virus

Biological viruses are transmitted through body fluid or air. The virus of gun play moves through social media. We can stop or stem that. Don’t send in the National Guard, send in the tech geeks. If a gang member makes CPD’s Strategic Subject List, find a way to curb or real- time monitor that gang member’s social media accounts. If kids have convictions or overt gang affiliations, find a way to curb their social media. I recognize that First Amendment issues come into play, but let’s test those limits. Lives are at stake. Enlist parents, teachers and clergy. And work with social media service providers for options to limit access and to create safeguards against social media as the conduit for the gun virus.

And at the same time, launch a positive community-based social media exchange both deterring kids from gangs and enticing them with music, sports, jobs or other outlets.

* Related…

* Chicago police recruits rarely flunk out, raising concerns about training

* ADDED: Group launches effort to employ 10,000 at-risk young Chicagoans

* ADDED: ACLU blasts Fardon for ‘blindsided attack’ on curtailing stop-and-frisk

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 10:17 am:

    What a great service, on the way out the door.

    I’m particularly interested in his call for a coordinated response among the federal agencies in combatting violent crime.

    Sounds something like the successful initiative by Pres. Reagan in the 1980s when the cocaine cowboys were running wild in South Florida. That situation makes Chicago of today look like Mayberry.

  2. - sal-says - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 10:17 am:


    Use the blueprint.

    From a man in Law Enforcement that’s cares, like most Law Enforcement.

    And his key point from my view is to coalesce many groups into one coordinated entity that will be far more than the sum of the parts.

    Be great if Fardon could actually lead the way

  3. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 10:19 am:

    I refuse to accept blame. I am not the enemy. More hogwash.

  4. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 10:27 am:

    Yes, let’s test the limits of the first amendment - not like Donald Trump would do anything like that. “Only in opposition” rears its head again.

    Beyond that, good suggestions except regarding the national guard: you could bring in the guard to do other police duties around the entire city and free up more police to put on the streets in the high crime areas over the summer. IF that worked, you then need to come up with the funding to make the police permanent, but you’d have your solution (or at least a partial solution).

  5. - W Flag - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 10:33 am:

    Kudos to Mayor Rahm Emanuel who felt that he could economize by short staffing the Chicago Police Department and, if necessary, use overtime to cover the districts needing more police.

    It has been a spectacular failure. Emanuel’s mismanagement of the police department is almost a textbook example of how not to manage a crisis.

  6. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    Again I make the plea for Chicago to impose a city earnings tax. Lead the way. Pay for things yourself.

  7. - Horst Cabal - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    “The virus of gun play moves through social media.” Perhaps eliminating free ’smart’ cell phone would be a good first step.

  8. - Peters Post - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    Many multiple approaches must be utilized and these are all pretty good suggestions. The goal would seem to be to rebuild community institutions. The Boy Scouts are planning initiatives to rebuild their programs in the West and South sides of Chicago. We will need many more innovative and tried and true community initiatives to create safe and nurturing communities. If the argument boils down to who pays we will all lose. We are already paying for the violence with city, state and federal resources.

  9. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    Great suggestions - all of them.

    The brick and mortar center is a must. Not just a place to play ball and hang out, but a place to learn about real life beyond the nightmare they are living. Kids need to see and live normalcy in order to create their own path to it.

  10. - dirty - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    Sounds like he’s running for mayor. Would be pretty weak to put out a letter like that and then waltz into the typical 7-figure biglaw gig.

  11. - Responsa - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 12:04 pm:

    ACLU has lost its way. Any and all avenues to curtail neighborhood violence must be allowed to be given voice. An “agreement” that nearly everyone can plainly see has not worked should be looked at again.

  12. - Keyrock - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    Dirty– Some people in the US Attorney’s Office have thought all along Zach was looking to run for statewide office. He’s not a City resident, so he’s not running for Mayor.

  13. - weltschmerz - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 12:19 pm:

    After 3+ years of silence and doing little to help Chicago. Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Kierkegaard

  14. - Payback - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 12:28 pm:

    I’m disappointed to see Fardon lambasting procedures to identify police stops with badge number. The underlying issue not discussed is the use of plainclothes police in unmarked vehicles, making contact with citizens with no name plate displayed and no chain of accountability.

    If you want to see what militarized policing looks like, flip on the TV and look at paramilitary units in Brazil wearing ski masks. In the 1970s they were called death squads.

    Some statistics show more people have been killed by police on U.S. soil since 2003, than American servicemen killed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan to date. Accountability of police to taxpayers is part of our system of checks and balances.

  15. - Biker - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    He’s not wrong that that ACLU agreement was horribly flawed. He is wrong about completely ignoring a billion dollars of Marijuana sales on the streets of Chicago funding Chicago gangs. Social media is of course dumb. But the reason those kids have the option to make money on a street corner with a gun in their back pockets is because Marijuana is illegal. California has a legal $7 Billion per year Marijuana industry. Chicago is 1/7th the population. Simple math because usage rates are similar across race, gender, state lines, creeds, etc. We have an unregulated $1 Billion a year industry and it’s killing people. Legalize it. Tax it. Put it behind glass. Stop nickel and diming our poorest communities. Let our kids grow up. Legalize it. Parent your kids, don’t make the government do it.

  16. - fed up - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 2:21 pm:

    You can hire police to do police worker and hire social workers to do what they were trained to do. Put them in the community centers and on street corners and let them: counsel, mentor, advocate, teach, deescalate, intervene, and mediate. Its not glamorous and it will take money and time but there are no shortcuts.

  17. - Amalia - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    yep, ACLU there’s a problem. and you’ve created it by going way too far beyond what is necessary to get at the real problems with police, which are a much smaller part of the equation than has been portrayed over the past couple of years in particular. and Fardon calls it on gangs and police decreasing the stop level. his social media comment is spot on. it is another platform for pointing out slights. he’s really good at talking about how government services need to be consolidated and focused, both at the federal level down to the community center level. Run Fardon Run

  18. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 7:48 pm:

    Would make a heckuva AG.

  19. - cannon649 - Tuesday, Mar 14, 17 @ 8:30 pm:

    ACLU is has done the people of Chicago a major disservice. The people and police have suffered and the ACLU is at the root of the issue.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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