PSN’s enforcement strategy relies on the coordinated efforts of local, state and federal law officers. In collaboration with the Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s office reviews arrests made on gun charges in PSN’s target police districts. The USAO identifies those individuals with egregious or repeat offenses for potential federal prosecution. Together with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the USAO determines which subjects are likely to receive stiffer sentences under federal authority and have those cases transferred to their jurisdiction. The aim of these prosecutions is to severely punish those who pose a significant danger to their communities and deter others from committing gun crime.
In addition to imposing stiff federal sentences, PSN’s criminal justice initiatives include our Drug Market Intervention strategy, an innovative approach to intervening in at-risk youth’s lives before ending up in prison. We also encourage community vigilance by providing telephone hotlines to allow citizens to report illegal gun possession when witnessed. Through these approaches, PSN’s partners are clamping down on individuals who choose to disobey the law.
Due to the high incidence of gang involvement in gun violence throughout Chicago and its suburbs, the USAO facilitates Gang-Strategy teams to perform investigations of gang activity in Chicagoland. Our anti-gang strategy focuses on a regional approach to address the problem of gang migration. Investigations often center on identifying high-ranking gang members that deserve higher enforcement scrutiny. The Anti-Gang Initiative’s strategy is twofold: First, to prioritize prevention programs to provide at-risk youth and ex-offenders returning to the community with opportunities that help them resist gang involvement; and second, to ensure robust enforcement when gang related violence does occur.
Based on successful violence interruption strategies in Boston, our drug market intervention is based on two unique premises: 1. Communities need to engage, communicate and reinforce their intolerance for activity associated with open air drug markets; and 2. Low-level, non-violent participants in these operations will be less likely to re-offend if given an opportunity to access services provided through our community partners as an alternative to incarceration. Law enforcement teams that arrest low-level offenders present the choice of diversion to mandatory social services or prosecution for their offenses.
Following these initial interventions, the Chicago team has determined that the most critical component of successfully ending narcotics sales in the area is to empower the community to maintain the area free from drug distribution. To accomplish this, we turn to our community partners to conduct a series of activities during the year to engage community residents in problem solving activities and provide positive alternatives for young people in the area. Some of these activities include: a Back to School Festival, Family Game Nights, Movies in the Park, and distribution of Anti-Violence materials.
PSN Chicago is a partnership with these organizations, researchers, and institutions: