Gov. Pat Quinn has offered to free up 40 more state troopers over the next 30 days to serve fugitive warrants in Chicago, get known criminals off the street and combat the traditional summer surge of gang violence, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.
Emanuel accepted and applauded the governor’s offer after meeting with civic, religious and community leaders at Kennedy-King College about ways to combat gang violence.
“The governor made an offer. We worked through the issues of what we think would be the most helpful. And I can’t [thank him] enough. When I brought it to the governor, he quickly turned around and said, ‘Yes. We’re in.’ They’re gonna give us 40 state troopers, work over the next 30 days, evaluate its effectiveness,” Emanuel said.
The mayor never mentioned the offer Quinn made that Chicago refused to accept, apparently because of the embarrassing headlines that it might generate for a city already known as the nation’s murder capital: for state troopers or the National Guard to join Chicago Police in patrolling the streets of Chicago.
Emanuel would only say, “The governor quickly made a big turnaround. He made the offer. We came up with a program that we’re doing today but really to expand it dramatically. And he did it in quick order. And the governor has been really responsive…on an effort to get people [who] are wanted off the streets so they don’t commit other crimes.”
Hours after the mayor’s news conference, the governor’s office issued a press release acknowledging that a deal had been cut to have 40 state troopers concentrate on serving fugitive warrants in four high-crime Chicago neighborhoods that were not identified.
As many as 25 “surge teams” — each including five Chicago Police officers and two state troopers — will be created. They will focus on apprehending those with “known violent criminal histories who are wanted by law enforcement,” the governor’s office said.
The troopers will be drawn from districts across the state and can be “accommodated with current State Police resources,” the release stated, without mentioning what services would be sacrificed.
The effort will be quarterbacked by State Police Colonel and chief of operations Michael Zerbonia. He’s a brigadier general in the Il. National Guard with more than 30 years of military expertise, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The state of Illinois will do whatever is necessary to protect public safety – in Chicago and every community across Illinois,” Quinn was quoted as saying.
“Earlier this year I told Mayor Emanuel we would help in any way we could to combat violence in the city. When he requested assistance, I immediately agreed to help.”
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the 40 additional state troopers could make a big dent in street violence.
“Very simply, fugitive apprehension is the simplest way to reduce crime because they’re wanted today. You put handcuffs on them, they don’t commit a crime tomorrow or later on today,” McCarthy said.
“When the mayor and the governor were having conversations about, what could they do, I very simply said, ‘Get us some folks to work fugitive apprehension with us.’ Our fugitive team [was] expanded a couple of years ago. We think we have it right-sized. But more means we can go out and arrest more wanted people, which is obviously going to help us. We recover guns and we solve other crimes when we do that. So, doing more of that is obviously something that’s good.”
Almost a month ago, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart joined the fray when he dedicated 115 officers to serve warrants in Chicago for people wanted for violent and gang-related offenses. They’ve made 284 arrests, seized 45 guns and created 821 “contact cards” documenting gang members they’ve stopped. The sheriff’s officers are coordinating their efforts with Chicago Police commanders in the Calumet, Harrison and Austin districts.
The move followed a violent Fourth of July weekend when 13 people were shot to death and dozens more were wounded, shining another unflattering national spotlight on Chicago.
The bloodbath prompted Quinn to renew his longstanding offer to send Illinois State Police troopers into the city to assist Chicago Police officers if Emanuel and McCarthy requested it.
The governor made an identical pitch last year after a Back of the Yards shooting left 13 people wounded.
So far, Emanuel and McCarthy haven’t asked.
After Wednesday’s meeting at Kennedy-King, McCarthy also disclosed that one of the men shot this week at a North Side nightclub had one of the state’s new concealed-carry permits and that the gun is now gone.
“We’re trying to determine, is this a case where that gun was taken from him when that shooting occurred?” he said.
“This is what I said from Day One: More guns is not the solution to gun violence. That’s akin to saying everybody should drive drunk to stop drunken driving. It doesn’t work that way.”
Contributing: Frank Main