CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday that 40 State Police troopers will be dispatched to Chicago to help the police department round up dangerous fugitives as part of an effort to combat an annual rise in violent crime during the summer.
The assignment of the troopers is the latest signal of the growing anxiety in Chicago about gun violence in a summer that has included a July Fourth weekend that left 14 dead and the death of an 11-year-old girl who was at a sleepover when a bullet pierced a wall, striking her in the head.
“The state of Illinois will do whatever is necessary to protect public safety – in Chicago and every community across Illinois,” Quinn said in a statement.
The troopers, whose salaries while on the detail will continue to be paid for by the state, will join the department’s 77-member Fugitive Unit. According to Quinn’s release, the troopers and the police department will set up as many as 25 “surge” teams that will focus on catching people with “known violent criminal histories who are wanted by law enforcement.”
Quinn offered last month to send troopers to the city but said he wouldn’t do so unless a request came from the city. He said in the statement that Mayor Rahm Emanuel had requested the assistance.
Emanuel said the effort will last for at least the next 30 days.
“When I brought it to the governor, he quickly turned around and said, ‘Yes,’ we’re in,’” Emanuel told reporters Wednesday.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has been under intense pressure to combat crime and the violent street gangs largely responsible for it. As he did last summer, McCarthy has dispatched officers by the hundreds working overtime to patrol the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Crime tends to rise during the summer, when warm weather brings more people to the streets.
Nearly a year ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that McCarthy said he would not support the idea of joining forces with the state police.
But on Wednesday, McCarthy welcomed the troopers.
“Fugitive apprehension is the simplest way to reduce crime because they’re wanted today,” McCarthy told reporters during an appearance with the mayor. “You put handcuffs on them, they don’t commit a crime tomorrow or later on today.”
The announcement comes just weeks after Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced that his office would focus on apprehending people wanted for violent crimes in Chicago.