Saturday, April 14, 2012

Windy City Woes

With the articles we've been reading, one must ask: what the heck is going on in Chicago?!?

In 2012, Chicago's homicide rate has skyrocketed and it seems no drop is in sight. While these crimes take place in Chicago's rougher, outlying neighborhoods on the Southside and the West Side, it gives a bad perception to those outside the region who think neighborhoods like The Loop, River North, Streeterville, and Lakeview are under siege. With Mayor Rahm Emanuel blaming the Daley Administration, it seems like nothing is getting done. There is a solution, however and those in Chicago should look 800 miles east to New York City.

Prior to the 1990s, New York City was a crime-ridden dump. The subways were unsafe, the homeless could become violent, many parks were drug dens, Times Square/42nd Street was dangerous and drivers had to worry about a violent outburst from the squeegee men that converged on the gridlocked streets of the Big Apple, especially along Dyer Avenue; the road that carries Lincoln Tunnel traffic into Midtown Manhattan. When Rudy Giuliani became mayor all this changed, as a result of the style of policing he facilitated. Using CompuStat, a program that maps crime statistics and more readily allows precinct commanders to come up with solutions to battling that crime, along with a strict enforcement of quality of life issues led to an extreme drop in crime, cleanup of the parks and many neighborhoods; all which led to an increased tax and tourism revenue for New York City.

Chicago is at a crossroads now, as it will spell trouble if this crime wave spills into The Loop, River North and Lakeview Neighborhoods. In my visit to Chicago, I felt safe in those neighborhoods, but did notice a lot of "pre-Giuliani" practices, such as extreme horn-honking and pan-handling. Rahm Emanuel needs to take the bull by the horns on this, stop complaining about who is to blame and get to work. If resources are truly a problem, he should start these policing reforms in smaller areas of those Southside and West Side areas, such as the United Center on the West Side and the immediate adjacent area of Hyde Park on the South Side. It can grow out from there and the crime rate in one of America's greatest cities would be on the way to dropping. If not, and this is a tall order because it's Chicago, a Republican needs to rise up, articulate the correct crime-fighting methods to Chicagoans and mount an electoral challenge to Rahm in three and a half more years.

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