Chicago, desperate to do something to try to slow the violent crime that is plaguing the city, has turned to programs that are not its traditional law enforcement focus to try to help stem the tide. But if recent Memorial Day weekend is any indication, not only are the programs not working, but one may be contributing to the problem; at least in one apparent incident.
One aspect of Chicago’s experiment to try to control the Windy City’s devastating violent crime, as reported by the Chicago Sun Timesis “hire residents who are most likely to get shot, or shoot others,” and pay them “$100 daily stipends” to act as “peacekeepers.” The idea, presumably, is that these individuals, sometimes referred to as “violence interrupters,” get to know their neighborhoods, get to know the bad actors (and often once were bad actors), and may be able to identify and intercede if there is any threat that a violent incident may be about to occur.
Unfortunately, a “peacemaker” seems to have continued his violent ways, instead embracing peace.
Several media reports They report that a man named Oscar Montes was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, robbery and vehicular invasion. Montes allegedly “was in a group of seven or eight people who pulled a man from a car and beat and kicked him to the ground in the 2300 block of South Washtenaw Avenue, (Chicago).” Upon arriving at the crime scene, police reported that they “saw Montes walk away and attempt to remove a neon vest that read ‘peacekeepers.’”
Montes was released last May after serving a decade in prison for aggravated shooting with a firearm, though that conviction was the result of a plea deal, after he had originally been charged with attempted murder.
The premise of the entire “peacekeeper” show may be that those hired for the role likely have criminal pasts, but as the Oscar Montes case seems to indicate, the vetting process to ensure that future “peacekeepers” have truly abandoned their criminal ways is in need of being refined.
Whether the “peacemaker” plan, or other non-traditional crime-fighting programs, will work in the long term remains to be seen, but this past Memorial Day weekend set a very bad precedent.
Gun-related violence involving people who were actually shot showed no sign of abating. The holiday weekend saw almost 60 people shot, 11 of them dead. which, according to Chicago Sun Times, makes it the “most violent Memorial Day weekend in 7 years.” And that without taking into account other violent crimes, such as the one that Montes is accused of.
Chicago’s new mayor, Brandon Johnson (D), rightly called the staggering number of shootings “intolerable.” Johnson, who helped oust former Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) in the election earlier this year, is a supporter of the “peacemaker” program, along with other efforts to try to stem the crime wave in his city through programs that do not involve law enforcement.
He pumped about $2.5 million into various organizations to promote local activities that are apparently intended to get people who might be considering a life of violent crime to engage in friendlier behavior instead. The lure of local barbecues and sporting events may lure some away from criminal activity, but only time will tell if it will have a noticeable impact in reducing the crime wave in Chicago.
A former Chicago law enforcement officer, Anthony Riccio, questioned the effectiveness of Johnson’s programs, stating, “I think many officers would prefer the money to be spent in other ways. … I’d rather have two cops than 30 violence interrupters any day of the week.”
Ultimately, Chicago can be better served by using proven techniques to reduce violent crime. President Donald Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, tried to help Chicago in 2020, with some success. Using the tried and true method of arresting and prosecuting violent criminals, things seemed to be changing. But with Trump and Barr no longer around to use federal resources to help crime-ridden Chicago, and the new regime in the White House more interested in playing politics than fighting crime, crime has returned. increasing and does not appear to be decreasing. .