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Police Source Tells Sun-Times CeaseFire Contract A Waste Of Money So Far

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 13, 2012 6:40PM

Ricardo "Cobe" Williams in a scene from The Interrupters.
The Sun-Times, citing a source within the Police Department, has an article today that indicates the city may have some buyers remorse regarding the $1 million contract it handed to CeaseFire, the anti-violence group popularized in last year's celebrated documentary The Interrupters.

The source told the Sun-Times that CeaseFire has "no significant success stories" three months into the contract. CeaseFire uses mediation techniques in their attempts to curb gang violence and, with their "violence interrupters" being former gang members, are able to reach out to gang members with a level of trust not accorded to the Police Department.

Both the Police Department and CeaseFire have eyed each other warily since news of the contract broke. The Emanuel administration, prompted by reports that six CeaseFire workers were charged with crimes in the past five years, cautiously entered into the working relationship with the group.

CeaseFire was concerned they may be looked at as informants for the Police Department, while both sides have expressed concern over having CeaseFire reps at CompStat meetings. Under the terms of the agreement, CeaseFire reports on ongoing mediations, but doesn't reveal the names of the gang members involved in conflicts or their affiliations. They'll be sitting in on closed door CompStat meetings in the near future where CPD hopes to gain more information of CeaseFre's mediations and gauge the group's level of success in the Grand Crossing and Ogden districts; 24 CeaseFire workers are currently assigned to the districts.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told the Sun-Times the department's relationship with CeaseFire is still a work in progress, a sentiment echoed by CeaseFire Chicago executive director Tio Hardiman.

“The Chicago Police Department wants information immediately, and we do our best,” Hardiman said. “But communication is a two-way street. . . . All relationships are a work in progress, but don’t point the finger at us.”