Watch CBS News

Civic Committee announces ambitious plan to cut down on murders in Chicago

Chicago's wealthiest come together for anti-violence strategy
Chicago's wealthiest come together for anti-violence strategy 02:35

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some of Chicago's wealthiest businesspeople are joining forces to fight crime.

As CBS 2's Sabrina Franza reported Thursday, the businesspeople are hoping to raise tens of millions of dollars over the next several years to work with organizations and local leaders already fighting that same change.

The new initiative is meant to bring all the players around the same table to fight crime. The idea is that collaboration is key to making Chicago the best it can be.

Now, business leaders are banding together to help make that happen. It's a response to violent crime across the city, from shootings to carjackings to robberies.

"A lot of the work right now is just being done independently - and if it could be corralled around a common set of goals in metrics, we think the city would really benefit from that," said Robert Boik, vice president of public safety at the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

The Civic Committee is a group made up of senior executives of Chicago's leading employers. Some of the wealthiest members of the city are now pledging funds and resources to fight crime.

"The business community hasn't traditionally been involved in this issue, and I think given the level of attention that public safety receives every day, I think our members, you know, wanted us to play a role in that," Boik said.

The Civic Committee's new plan involves both long- and short-term investment promises – mainly hiring employees from underinvested communities on the South and West sides, and working with preexisting community violence intervention programs to help them expand their reach.

"These are really things that are unique to what business can bring to the table - and this is the part that we are willing to play," Boik said.

Billionaire James Crown, a leader of the Civic Committee, is spearheading the effort. He said the hope is to improve safety throughout the city -- including for his employees, and for tourists who support Chicago businesses.

Some of Chicago's richest are planning a large investment in the effort – including attorneys, CEOs, and university presidents. Crown also acknowledges it's something he and other CEOs should have been working on earlier.  

"We are not the solution," Boik said. "There's a lot of other players in the space and corralling all of those efforts around one singular goal and initiative, we think it's very critical."  

CBS 2 compiled data from over the past few years. The homicide rate across the city peaked at 804 in 2021.


The committee hopes that by joining forces with the state and local governments and community leaders, they can get that number down to 400 – half.

Chicago hasn't been under that number since 1965. The Civic Committee also wants to bring the city's annual number of murders below 200 within 10 years.  

"I don't think we're sitting here promising that those numbers are going to land where they want them to be, but we have to have aggressive goals," Boik said.

Chicago billionaires urge CEOs to invest in anti-violence strategy 02:36

The plan also includes investing in the South and West sides – focusing on business development there – as well as working with the Chicago Police Department to enforce the consent decree mandating court-ordered reforms. Boik is the former executive director of the Chicago Police Department Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform.

"Where we can sit across the same table from the Police Department, utilize our voice, and also potentially even bring resources to the table," Boik said.

Much of the plan is still in the early stages. We will keep tabs on its progress.

The Civic Committee said its members plan to meet with Mayor Brandon Johnson about their goals in the coming weeks. A spokesperson for the Mayor's office did tell us they are subscribed to a similar collaborative approach.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.