Chicago sports teams put up $1 million to fight city’s gun violence

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The Englewood District’s Strategic Decision Support Center. | File photo.

Chicago’s five major professional sports teams announced Wednesday that they will donate a combined $1 million to help reduce the rampant gun violence here.

The owners of the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox partnered with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which evaluates crime-reduction strategies.

The $1 million donation will be spent three ways: the youth-therapy program Choose 2 Change; analyst training for technology centers in Chicago Police stations; and the U of C crime lab.

Choose 2 Change teaches young people to avoid situations where violence is likely. Since 2015, about 400 kids have gone through the five-month program in Englewood.

“We are all deeply saddened every day when we read a new headline about shootings and violence in Chicago,” Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, said in a prepared statement.

“Chicago is our home. This is the greatest city in the world. Collectively, we need to work together to preserve it, and now is the time for us to double our efforts. While we understand that as sports teams we don’t have all of the answers to solving such complicated issues, we do appreciate the incredible position of leadership that we are fortunate to hold. We have a responsibility to give back to our city and to all of our fans who have given us their hearts and cheers. These teams have brought championships to Chicago, but the great people of this city deserve a champion – or an alliance of champions – to stand together against this unacceptable level of community violence.”

Bears chairman George McCaskey credited Reinsdorf with coming up with the idea.

For the first time ever, five Chicago teams are joining together to tackle a vital issue in our city – stopping violence. — Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) December 20, 2017

The police technology centers, officially called strategic decision support centers, have been installed in six of the city’s 22 police districts. Civilian analysts from the U of C work with cops to create crime-reduction strategies through data analysis, intelligence from sources on the street and community input.

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has credited the centers with helping cut crime in those districts this year.

In 2017 through mid-December, Chicago saw 18 percent fewer shootings than the same period of 2016. More than two-thirds of the reduction came in districts with technology centers.

Police officials intend to put the technology centers in six more police districts on the south and west sides by the end of 2018.

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