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Police Announce Plans For Citywide Unit To Deploy To High-Crime Areas, Prevent Violence: Has It Worked In The Past?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More resources to fight violent crime – Chicago Police say that is the goal of their latest initiative.

But have we seen this before, and has it worked? CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot has been looking at past efforts.

In 2004, Chicago saw its biggest drop in shootings and homicides in nearly 40 years with a similar effort. The question is, will an effort like that work in 2020?

The announcement of a new CPD strategy came after a violent 4th of July holiday weekend in Chicago – a 7-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were killed, and nearly 80 people shot.

A specialized citywide unit is being created to deploy into high crime areas to prevent violence before it happens.

"The current strategy is reminiscent of the other interventions the police employed in the aftermath in spikes of violence," said Dr. Arthur Lurigio, a professor of Criminology and Psychology at Loyola University Chicago.

Lurigio is referring to a strategy used in 2004, when then-Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline implemented the Targeted Response Unit to fight crime, citywide.

A 2004 CPD annual report shows the effort led to a decrease in murders by more than 25 percent, which was a 38-year low in the city.

"The focus in 2004 was gangs, drugs, and guns," Lurigio said.

But there was a downside.

"The police officers who worked in those units, engaged in behaviors that citizens thought were excessive," he said.

On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged the past.

"I think that the superintendent is very cognizant of the challenges that existed with these units before, and putting in particular safeguards to make sure that there's proper supervision and accountability," Mayor Lightfoot said.

In the past few months, we've seen several crime fighting initiatives with different names announced by Chicago police. Lurigio said the best way to make the current strategy work is by the police gaining the community's trust.

"Residents will react in a different way to the police presence because it's 2020," he said.

Lurigio said police must also have the cooperation of the courts and jails. He also said economic opportunities must be in place to stop violence.

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