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Chicago Business Community Leaders Meet With State's Attorney, Demand Answers About Why Repeat Offenders Seem To Get Back On Streets Easily

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Fed-up Chicago business owners are going directly to Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx – demanding answers about violent crime.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported Tuesday evening, the big question the business owners have is why repeat offenders appear to be getting back on the streets so easily.

Everyone is concerned about safety – that is number one. But the point the business owners wanted to get across to the State's Attorney is the way criminals are handled here is ultimately affecting the entire city and its bottom line.

Members of the city's business community say flashing lights, police tape, and blocked off crime scenes are sights too common across Chicago's 77 community areas and 22 police districts.

"We want to be the voice for every neighborhood," said Sam Sanchez, Board President of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

But it is not just the uptick in crime that had business leaders concerned as they called a meeting with State's Attorney Kim Foxx. It is what happens when the Chicago Police cruisers leave and the tape comes down - especially when dealing with repeat offenders…

"Whether it be gun violence, shoplifting, carjacking - and why it takes so long for someone to be doing a good amount of time," said Maureen Martino, Executive Director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. "Otherwise, there's no consequence to the crime."

Martino said there will be consequences if something doesn't change.

"People will not want to invest," she said. "Certainly, retailers are moving out - and we have to look at what we can do to keep the vibrancy of our neighborhoods."

These are some of the same concerns Jaime di Paulo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, shared with us and the State's Attorney.

"We have to close down earlier. We have to put more cameras," di Paulo said. "And frankly, criminals are not afraid of anything. More cameras? They don't care."

Their worries are reflected in the numbers. We pulled the latest crime stats, and they show murder is at its highest rate, citywide, since 2017.

So far, just this year, there are 4,032 shooting victims in the city. We ran the numbers back to 2010 – it is the highest we've seen.

But when it comes to change, the business representatives said the State's Attorney brought up a stronger partnership with CPD as a solution to the repeat offender issue.

"If our State's Attorney embeds her office into the police with the police commanders and they can identify the criminal, and as a repeat offender, then they'd know who is a danger to society and can keep them off the streets," Sanchez said. "That's the goal."

But the State's Attorney's office didn't address that goal with us, despite our questions. The office only issued this statement:

"Cook County State's Attorney had a productive meeting with business community leaders today to discuss ways to prevent crime and improve the image of Chicago and Cook County. We hope to continue to meet regularly. We share a goal to showcase Chicago as the world class city it is."

The State's Attorney's office also shared charging data on felony cases this year through Oct. 31. The office said out of 8,584 felony cases, 7.383 have been approved for felony charges - for an 86 percent approval rate. A total of 11,510 cases have been prosecuted and 6,926 were convicted - a rate of 60 percent.

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The Chicago Loop Alliance also issued a statement explaining why the meeting with the State's Attorney's office was called for with regard specifically to the downtown area:

"Chicago Loop Alliance always looks to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing the offices and departments tasked with keeping the city safe. We are meeting with the State's Attorney's Office to learn and collaborate, much like we do with our contacts in the Mayor's Office, Chicago Police Department, etc., on a regular basis. The Loop is a major economic driver for the region, and we look forward to continuing to work together—as we always have—to keep it vibrant and welcoming."

As noted by the State's Attorney's office, the following business leaders were part of the meeting:

• Sam Toia, President & CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association
• Sam Sanchez, Board President, Illinois Restaurant Association
• Rob Karr, President & CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association
• Michael Jacobson, President & CEO, Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association
• Gus Drosos, Board Member, Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association
• Brad Tietz, Vice President, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
• Michael Edwards, President & CEO, Chicago Loop Alliance
• Ian Tobin, Director of Planning & Advocacy, The Magnificent Mile Association
• Rich Gamble, Board Chair, The Magnificent Mile Association
• Maureen Martino, Executive Director, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce
• Jasper Robinson, Vice-President, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce
• Jaime di Paulo, President & CEO, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
• Craig Chico, President & CEO, Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council
• Dan Arce, Board Chair, Little Village Community Foundation

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