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Sen. Durbin Asks DOJ For Help Curbing Chicago Gun Violence Ahead Of Summer

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 22, 2017 8:20PM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Getty Images / Photo: Chip Somodevilla

With the ongoing roiling turmoil in the administration and President Donald Trump's visit to the Middle East, the White House's once-constant invocation of Chicago violence and sanctuary-city smears have finally subsided—at for a moment. But Illinois lawmakers are still looking for federal commitment to help law enforcement combat violent gun crimes in the city.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday asking that the Department of Justice expand Chicago Police Department's ability to further employ gun-violence prevention initiatives, including the Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs)—data-analysis centers designed to better use police resources—and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN)—a casings-match system used to help solve gun crimes.

Such support centers are currently implemented in six districts: Englewood, Harrison, Austin, Deering, Gresham and Ogden. Crime Lab analysts from the University of Chicago, who assist officers through SDSCs said that the Englewood and Garfield Park districts saw 49 and 66 percent reductions in shootings in February and March below forecast, according to WTTW.

Durbin also pressed the DOJ to back the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act, which goes after straw purchasing and state-to-state gun trafficking.

The No. 2 Senator said in a release:

“Last year 4,368 people were shot in Chicago and so far this year there have been at more than 1000 shooting victims in the city. There is no cure-all solution to reducing this violence - we need a comprehensive approach that will help create economic opportunity, address the prevalence of trauma in hard-hit communities, and keep guns out of dangerous hands. We need to do more to crack down on the illegal trafficking of guns and support violence prevention initiatives that have shown promising results, like SDSCs. I hope the federal Department of Justice will step up and be a constructive partner in reducing gun violence.”

Sessions' Department of Justice sent letters last month to representatives of nine jurisdictions—including two in Chicago—threatening to cut off funds if they don't allow local law enforcement to cooperate freely with immigration enforcement. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has criticized the letters as "a bit of a joke."