Michelle Obama says today that she will attend the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton Sunday, the 15-year-old band majorette who performed during inauguration festivities and was shot to death last month. Pendleton's death, and the White House's attention, puts renewed focus on Chicago's murder rate. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm with more on his plans to curb the city's violence, which has already led to the deadliest January since 2002.
McCarthy announced last week he is moving 200 officers from desk duty to patrols. The first 60 were deployed last weekend to "area saturation teams," units meant to flood high-crime areas. They differ from the department's mobile strike units, which were disbanded by McCarthy in 2011, because they have a "geographic focus," McCarthy says. The saturation teams divide the city into three areas: Central, North, and South. The remaining 140 officers will be in place by the end of March, and will be assigned a variety of roles.
Police are also changing the way they handle 911 calls. Past calls would almost always result in officers getting dispatched to the scene, but now the department says some can be handled by police taking a statement over the phone. Calls will be handled over the phone if police believe the victim is safe, the offender is not still at the scene and is not expected to return, and there is no need for an immediate investigation. This could apply to crimes such as car theft, burglary, property damage, passing bad checks, and threatening phone calls.
McCarthy has long said police are often bogged down responding to frivolous calls. "I'm not joking when I tell you that we've handled calls that say, 'My children are fighting over the remote control,'" he said last year.