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Ineffectively? Nearly six decades of violence reduction efforts in Chicago have failed to reduce violence. Disastrously so. In 1992 Mayor Richard M. Daley said bluntly that "Chicago has lost two generations of young people to gangs and drugs." "Adults," he told a group of YMCA youth aldermen, "have failed to solve the problem. Because adults don't understand it."
Since then, strides have made towards understanding the problem in the areas of police reform and youth outreach.
Notably, the City of Chicago's VIOLENCE REDUCTION DASHBOARD addresses violence with a "trauma-informed and holistic community-based approach to support the people and places most impacted by violence:"
Chicago's treatment of violence as a public health matter is saving lives. Many lives. Significantly, it demonstrates from a historical perspective Chicago's rapid evolution away from its industrial-age treatment of public violence as an unmitigated threat to society towards the idea of public violence as, in part, an actual creation of society. The next step in this digital-age evolution will affirm and realize the democratic idea of the human capability for self-government. Far from striving merely reduce or eliminate the negative of citywide violence, it will strive to create and maintain the positive of citywide safety.
To this end, this next step, facilitated by Chicago's digital-age public communications system, will take the radical step of making all Chicagoans, city leaders included, both responsive and accountable to each other in making Chicago a safe place to visit, work, play, worship and raise a family in.
If this step seems beyond human capability, consider where Chicago stands today with respect to its violence. In 2022, the total of generations of young Chicagoans lost to gangs and drugs has risen to three and is counting fast to four, with billions of taxpayer dollars spent annually in Chicago's failed attempt to merely reduce a problem that most Chicagoans long ago came to accept as a hard fact of Chicago life, like brutal Chicago winters.
It should be said that in 2021, two traumatic events - COVID and the aftermath of George Floyd's murder - contributed to creating what many Chicagoans, especially Chicago's police, now speak of a as a citywide breakdown of law and order.
But the upside to citywide violence is the emergence of the need for a citywide solution to violence. Coupled with the fact of the existence of Chicago digital age media, it points to the idea of Chicago SAFE tactics developed in real time with ongoing public input and dialogue between citizens and City Hall.
There is no denying that mainstream media that comprise Chicago's public communications system have long had ample resources to inform and empower all Chicagoans (city leaders included) to realize the universally desired goal of making Chicago SAFE. What has be lacking in the I Will City has been the will do so.
All this said, the decision to use Chicago's media to make Chicago safe rests not with City Hall but, obviously, with the owners and managers of Chicago's public and commercial media. Happily, these media are responsive to their audiences and are, to a degree, accountable to them.
It should now be obvious to these owners and managers that people of Chicago - all 2.7 million residents - constitute an untapped Market of the Whole of all Chicagoans who yearn for safe neighborhoods and/or who have a material stake in Chicago's safety, be it reputational or financial (e.g. property taxes).
Setting aside the work of public servants like Jane Addams and Daniel Burnham, industrial-age Chicago addressed public violence as a public safety (police) problem to be curbed, contained, controlled, cracked down on or otherwise reduced by the city's police, court and prison system.
Today, Chicago addresses its violence, in addition, as a public health (medical) problem to be treated, non-punitively and restoratively, by the city's medical and mental health system. This step forward incorporates the perception that the violence that threatens a society can also be a creation of a society that denies some of its members the possibility of living a decent life.
That said, however, Chicago continues to place the lion's share of responsibility for reducing violence one on its hugely overburdened police force.
The narrow mindset behind the negative, police-only goal of reducing violence has long prevented Chicago from considering the positive, citywide goal of using its digital-age public communications system to empower all city residents - police, City Hall and Chicagoans of all ages and backgrounds - to work jointly to make Chicago a safe place to visit, work, play, worship and raise a family in.
1. PUBLIC SAFETy: POLICE, courts, prisons
Chicago's outnumbered and overburdened police force is now understaffed, with mounting job dissatisfaction. Huge backlogs plague Chicago's courts. Prisons have long been graduate schools for gang recruitment and training. The trust gap between police and the public widened sharply in 2021 in part because Chicago is using digital-age technologies like Shotspotter to surveil public areas and thereby to exacerbate the police-state mentality that many Chicagoans fear exists in their city. This at a time when Chicago's digital-age media could be building trust and cooperation among police, City Hall and the public.
2. PUBLIC HEALTH: MEDICAL and sociological professionals
, of Chicago's public health professionals are local in outreach, not citywide, and even then are themselves hugely underfunded. The Chicagoans they are intended to serve are often never informed of their existence. Media's power to connect Chicagoans with these public health programs is hugely underused.
Anchor 2 - police
Anchor 3 PUBLIC HEALTH
Anchor 4 PUBLIC OFFICIALS
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