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Odds Are Good On Getting Away With A Shooting In Chicago

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 24, 2013 9:20PM

DNAInfo Chicago’s Mark Konkol has a sobering report on the number of shootings in Chicago where the shooter doesn’t face criminal charges that, to outside observers, will only reinforce perceptions that the city is like a frontier town with guns being drawn with impunity all the time.

DNAInfo analyzed data from the Police Department and found only 111 of the 1,893 non-lethal shootings reported in 2012 resulted in charges filed against a shooter. The others cases were still open, suspended or “cleared indefinitely,” meaning police were able to identify the shooter but were unable to file charges—a staggering 94 percent. Factoring in cases from 2011 that were resulted in charges and the clearance rate climbs to 18.8 percent, half the national average cited in recent FBI reports on clearance rates.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told Konkol the main reason for that pitiful number is the “no-snitching” rule of the streets.

To make cases prosecutable we need cooperative witnesses — and those go out the window right up front. We have a victim today who is an offender tomorrow. It's a vicious circle. There are a lot of people who are not going to cooperate," he said. "That's why we have to take on the no-snitch issue."

Earlier this month McCarthy floated the idea of enlisting local celebrities in a campaign aimed at easing the stigma of “snitching.” But he also allowed that the Police Department’s reputation for not using kid gloves, exemplified by the systemic pattern of torture practiced by now-imprisoned former police commander Jon Burge, has also contributed to the “no snitching” code.

"We have gotten black eyes recently based on incidents that happened long before we got here," he said. "Early in the 90s, you name the scandal, they're all coming to fruition now. The fact is, I can't fix that. I can't go back and change what happened with Jon Burge. But what I can do is focus on the behavior of our officers today."

Former Police Superintendent Jody Weis said the numbers are such that an independent study may be warranted to determine the causes of this and recommendations to clear more cases.