We've heard that a lot lately, but professor Greg Scott has some contrarian ideas on the matter, especially the police's plan to keep the summer peace with aggressive tactics, including SWAT teams.He mentions something that shouldn't exactly be a big surprise. In fact we've at least heard about this in the news that people with some money they mention loop professionals but for sure we've heard about suburbanites coming in looking for some dope. Apparently they're willing to take a risk in going to some unsafe neighborhoods in order to get a quick high. Too bad that a few have been killed or at least died in the process.
"There's nothing better for a gang than a good old-fashioned police raid," Scott said Wednesday. He was sitting in a West Side diner favored by gang leaders, raking a fork through his fried potatoes. "It just makes them stronger."
Professor Scott, PhD in sociology, has tenure and an office at DePaul, but the "professor" part may leave the wrong impression. Scott's arms are a riot of tattoos and his spiky red hair brings to mind David Caruso in "CSI: Miami."
He's spent years—he's 40—researching Chicago gangs by hanging out with them, originally while employed in the state attorney general's office. He doesn't claim to have dissected the mayhem that has provoked headlines like the one on AOL Thursday: "Chicago's Violent Spring Grows Deadlier."
But he believes treating gang members like terrorists just solidifies the gang, and terms like "gang-related crime" often mislead.
"A lot of the violence we hear about being caused by gangs is kids who do stupid stuff with a gun in their hand," he said. "If we did social autopsies of these crimes, we might realize that the crimes were motivated by factors more important than gang affiliation."
What, he asked, causes the most violence among gang members? Guns? Drugs?
"Disputes over females."
It's true, he said, that when spring arrives, violence is apt to flare because everybody comes outside. People who live in cramped apartments, people forced to move, drug dealers and drug buyers—everybody's out.
Remember that within the past year or two some people died after getting some heroin and it was laced with a dangerous chemical. They went over to the west side for the buy and some of them were suburbanites as easily as there were neighborhood people. Of course let's be honest here there is a common conception which I'm sure is true that most of the "drug markets" are in these unsafe neighborhoods in the city. You're not likely to get drugs out there in the burbs.
Let's continue with the article...
I most certainly hope it's not difficult for the police to switch gears on strategy as to how to best combat the violence that occurs in Chicago neighborhoods. I want everyone to appreciate that the only answer is definitely not more gun control. And hopefully Dr. Scott's answer won't be construed as going after gun shops because the fact is we have to find a way to go after those people who are willing to sell guns to criminals. Chances are these aren't gun shop owners but we are talking about people on the streets who will sell a gun to the highest bidder.
But Chicago's gangs are no longer the big, centralized regimes of legend, Scott said. The problem now is thousands of small drug crews, loosely bound by the same name, like franchises; most members barely make minimum wage. Treating them like terrorists is likely to backfire.
"Gang members aren't Martians," he said. "They're the sons, daughters, brothers and fathers of people in the neighborhood. Police need to appreciate that gang members aren't just villains to the neighborhood."
People who live in violent areas want police attention, he said, but they don't want a police state, which is what police risk creating.
"They'll probably make a lot of arrests," he said. "Most of the arrests won't stick. Along the way, they've created animosity, which is what the gang thrives on."
In Europe, he said, police understand better that when gangs feel under siege, solidarity increases.
So what's the answer? There's not a single one, he said. But a good start would be to get the guns. Stop the flow from dealers outside the city. Don't just arrest the guy who fires it once it's here.
There are other solutions to be had here too. However what I would be interested in knowing how do we allow the police to do their jobs without creating discontent in the neighborhoods their patrolling?