Police: Warnings to gangs, job training offers paying off - FOX 32 News Chicago

Police: Warnings to gangs, job training offers paying off

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CHICAGO (Associated Press) -

Police are knocking on the doors of known gang members in Chicago to warn them that their next address could be a state prison if they don't stop shooting their rivals -- a new tactic that is yielding promising results, according to the department.

According to police, in the seven months since the pilot program was launched, none of the more than 50 people who received "custom notifications" have been arrested for a violent felony or is suspected in a shooting, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Most of those who were visited had lengthy criminal records.

While police have issued warnings to gang members in the past, officers are now giving gang members a contact for job training and other social services that might help them leave gang life behind. They are also talking to the gang members' families.

"They don't like the fact that you go to their home and embarrass them in front of their family," said Ildefonso Lara, a department intelligence officer.

That is fine with Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who said the hope is that family members can put pressure on gang members to change their ways.

The effort is an expansion of something McCarthy's predecessor, Jody Weis, did, when he met with gang members to warn them that the department would target gangs if one of their members killed somebody. Weis was criticized by some aldermen, who complained that he was coddling criminals. But McCarthy suggested that if knocking on doors and offering help getting job training is coddling and might be considered a "hug-a-thon," he doesn't care.

"It's not an enforcement strategy, it's an intervention," he said. "I don't care what people think. If it works, I will give them a hug myself."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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