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Exiting U.S. Attorney Offers Frank Advice On Curbing Chicago Violence

(CBS) – The outgoing U.S. Attorney for Chicago has issued a letter that includes frank recommendations on how the city of Chicago can curb the violence that plagues some neglected neighborhoods.

Zachary Fardon resigned Monday at the request of the new administration at the U.S. Department of Justice, which prefers to put its own appointees in place. Fardon became the top federal prosecutor here in 2013 under President Obama.

Fardon, who was known earlier in his career for public-corruption cases, says when he was put in charge he was most interested in helping to curb Chicago's problem with gang-related violence.

"I came into office in 2013 not long after Hadiya Pendleton was killed by an errant bullet in a public park. Like most folks, I was horrified and confused by Hadiya's death and the constant drumbeat of seemingly random deaths of so many others, including kids, on the south and west sides of Chicago," Fardon writes in an open letter dated Monday.

Fardon concedes that the federal resources he has brought to bear on criminals has not had the impact he would have liked.

He offers a number of suggestions to help turn things around in Chicago. They include:

-Making sure the federal government follows through on a consent decree that will obligate the Chicago Police Department to implement reforms. Fardon's tenure included the Laquan McDonald scandal and a subsequent federal investigation into CPD.

-Beefing up and consolidating federal resources to target violent crime in Chicago. Fardon dismisses the idea of using National Guard members to police streets, saying it would send the wrong message to disadvantaged communities. "Wars are fought between enemies. There is only one enemy here, and it is us, all of us in Chicago," he writes.

-Monitoring the social media postings of gang members, who increasingly use the platforms to taunt enemies and spur violence.

-Creating "youth pathway" centers to mentor young people.

"The kids in our hardest hit neighborhoods are gang affiliating as young as 10, 11, 12 years old. Once that's happened, it's too late; their fate is sealed," Fardon says.

-Overhauling the county-level bond system so that serious criminals are not able to get back on the street as easily.

"That system keeps non-violent poor defendants in jail awaiting trial, and allows violent gang members to get out because they can post money bonds. That's nuts," Fardon says.

The longtime prosecutor, 50, says he has no political leanings and is not interested in running for office. Fardon's top deputy, Joel Levin, will take his place in the U.S. Attorney's Office until the Trump administration picks a replacement.

Read the complete letter here.

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