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Billionaire Ken Griffin Donates $10M To Help Fight Chicago Crime

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago's effort to reduce violent crime is receiving a $10 million boost from billionaire Ken Griffin, the richest man in Illinois.

The money will be used to beef up the Police Department's use of technology to track and fight crime. Griffin toured one of the Chicago Police Department's strategic decision support centers on Wednesday. The high-tech nerve center at the Grand Central District station began operating on Jan 1.

Griffin's donation will help expand the collaboration between CPD and the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which has been working with the city to incorporate smart policing into the crime-fighting strategy through the strategic decision support centers.

Over the past couple years, the Police Department has been adding the so-called nerve centers at 12 district stations.

Police officials said the nerve centers have helped reduce the number of murders this year by 22 percent compared to the same period last year.

"A safe Chicago attracts more families, more businesses, better jobs. It creates more opportunities for all," Griffin said.

Griffin's $10 million donation will be used in part to create a mobile strategic decision support center.

The hubs use software called Hunch Lab, which predicts areas considered at-risk for violence, based on previous crimes and arrests. Officers use that information to intervene and prevent future crimes from happening.

"We're now not waiting for the first shot, preventing that first shot. This is proactive policing. It's a total different approach," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

The centers also use ShotSpotter sensors placed throughout their districts to detect and pinpoint the location of gunfire as it happens, and more quickly dispatch officers to respond. Police officials said the technology has helped reduce response times by five minutes.

City leaders said Griffin's donation would continue CPD's record of reducing crime, pointing to a 13-month decline in shootings and homicides.

"Hope, optimism, and the rebuilding that comes with it are replacing the sounds of sirens and gunshots," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

Griffin, founder and CEO of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel, frequently has donated money to benefit Chicago institutions.

Last year, he donated $125 million to the University of Chicago's economics department. In 2016, he donated $12 million to the Chicago Park District to divide the Lakefront Trail into separate paths for cyclists and joggers.

Griffin also is a member of the Illinois team seeking to lure Amazon's second headquarters to Chicago.

The billionaire encouraged other Chicago philanthropists to make a donation to the effort to reduce crime. Nearly half of the money he gave will go to officer wellness as mental health training.

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