Why Chicago PD can't get more residents to identify gun violence suspects

CHICAGO – Earlier this year, Romell Young got into a fist fight on the street near his home on the city’s West Side, pummeling a man in a brawl that was spurred by an argument he can’t even remember.

Young does, however, have a huge scar to remind him what happened after he gave his rival a whupping: The man returned with a gun and shot him in the leg.

At the hospital, police asked Young, 23, to tell them who shot him, but he said he declined to name the assailant. Weeks after the April incident, Young — who has a long arrest record and a felony conviction for drug possession — was charged for illegal possession of a firearm, when police said they caught him on the street with a weapon.

“I believe karma is (vengeful), you feel me?” said Young, explaining to USA TODAY in a July jailhouse interview why he didn’t name the man who shot him. “One day you’re going to reap what you sow.”

Young’s no-snitching outlook sheds light on the complicated dynamic in Chicago’s neighborhoods plagued by persistent gun violence, one in which few residents are willing to assist police and even fewer perpetrators are held accountable.

Over the weekend, at least 72 people were shot in the city, including 12 fatally, but police did not record a single arrest in any of the incidents.

In an emotional response, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called on residents to speak up and cooperate with police to identify perpetrators.

You all know who these individuals are, they come into your homes every day, sleep with you every night,” Johnson said. “Grandparents, parents, siblings, significant others — you know who they are.”

The city of Chicago recorded more than 1,400 homicides and 6,200 shooting incidents in 2016 and 2017. So far this year, the city has tallied more than 325 murders — 20 percent fewer killings than at the same point in 2017 — and the grim death toll puts Chicago again on pace to tally more homicides than any other U.S. city.

At the same time, the police department in the nation’s third-largest city has solved far fewer murders over the last several years compared to most other major departments around the country.

Chicago’s clearance rate — the calculation of cases that end with an arrest or identification of a suspect who can’t be apprehended — dipped to 26 percent in 2016 from 46 percent in 2013, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. Most of the killings, largely fueled by gang-fueled conflict, take place in a smattering of low-income, predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the South and West Sides of the city.

Full USA Today Story....