CHICAGO – Chicago Police are set to kick off an experiment Friday in a neighborhood on the city’s West Side, hoping to alert would-be criminals that they’re being watched and face stiff penalties if they’re convicted of crimes.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a commander will begin knocking on doors to deliver warning letters to about 20 people who statisticians say are most likely to either be shot or become shooters themselves.
The “custom notifications” come after police identified more than 400 “hot people” across the city who are most likely to be involved in often fatal shootings that have drawn national attention to gang violence.
“We’re saying, ‘We know who you are, we know what you do and your chance of dying in a homicide is much greater than John Q. Citizen,’” said Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
The letters also say people will face stiff penalties if they’re arrested for a violent crime.
The effort is limited to a single district in the Austin neighborhood, though police hope to expand the practice as gang violence escalates. They’re also considering tapping into so-called “influentials” – people such as coaches and pastors who may be able to accompany police on future visits.
They’re also considering whether to use the tactic in special situations.
“We are looking to reach out and touch those individuals who are responsible for the violence in the city,” said Debra Kirby, who heads the department’s Bureau of Organizational Development.
Despite violent weekends – 11 people were shot and killed and dozens more wounded during the Fourth of July holiday weekend – police say overall violence in the city is down.
As of Thursday, police said murders were down 26 percent this year while overall crime had fallen 15 percent compared to the same period last year.