Emanuel, McCarthy: Operation Impact helps fight war on crime - FOX 32 News Chicago

Emanuel, McCarthy: Foot patrols helping to reduce violence

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Darlene Hill) Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Darlene Hill)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago police say they now have boots on the ground in 20 of the city's most violent areas.

"Operation Impact" started in February, putting officers on foot patrol in 20 specifically targeted neighborhoods. Since then, McCarthy says crime in those areas is down 29 percent, shootings are down 48 percent, and murders are down 45 percent.

McCarthy says the results show police are in the right place. The decrease in crime tells the story that police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel want us to hear about, but the real story for the people living in these areas. The top 20 truly show how Chicago police and people are working together.

"I'm called Ms. Caps. I'm called the lady that owns the block. I'm called everything except Ms. Swanson but they respect it and they do work with me," says resident Betty Jo Swanson.

After living on the same block for 50 years, Betty Jo Swanson says she's earned that respect. Residents say the 7900-block of South Carpenter in the Auburn Gresham/ Englewood area was once considered one of the toughest in the city because of gangs and gun violence.

"You might come home from work and see a body laying there in the street where he had been shot," Swanson says about the violence. "You could be sitting on your porch and have to run in the house because they're shooting. You could be in this block and they're shooting in the next block. There was drugs. There was everything."

Swanson says the police foot patrols have helped but it took people like her, who have been living in these homes to get fed up with the crime.

Chicago police say the numbers are down, but Swanson says when you're living in the middle of what's going on, the decline is hard to believe. But she admits things are getting better and she feels a lot safer today than she did last year.

Long-time Chicago resident and funeral director Spencer Leak says the decline is encouraging, but try sharing those numbers with a parent making funeral arrangements instead of paying college tuition.

"The numbers are down but they're still there," Leak says. "One homicide is one too many."

Chicago police says it's going to take strategic policing, smart prevention and sound parenting to keep the numbers down.

"You can feel from the community that they feel a little safe---they do feel a lot more engaged---like they can trust the police," Commander Fred Waller says.

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