Editorial: Getting tough on violent crime
(Second in an editorial series)
When she ran for reelection last year, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx blamed the pandemic for the rise in the number of cases of violent crime.
There no doubt was and still is a bit of truth to that. The pandemic has exacerbated the problems of poverty, a root cause of crime.
But it is only a part of the explanation, and for Foxx, a convenient excuse for a top prosecutor who fails to demonstrate that she is as concerned about the victims of crime as she is about the suspected perpetrators.
Foxx is a vocal advocate of criminal justice reform, and that is to her credit. Justice is not justice unless it is fair. But she has been much less vocal about fighting crime, fails to challenge soft bonds and seems all but oblivious to the threats posed by street gangs.
Don't get us wrong. There can be no doubt that crime will not be minimized until we as a society can get at the heart of it. It is so indelibly linked to poverty and hopelessness.
We laud, for instance, county Board President Toni Preckwinkle's announcement last week of $1.5 million in grants to community-based organizations aimed at addressing root causes of crime.
But just as it is possible -- and necessary -- to pursue police reform and effective law enforcement concurrently, the same is true of fighting crime while also addressing the seeds of it.
The victims of violence do not have the luxury of waiting until long-term systemic changes have taken place. People need to be safe now.
We're encouraged that in his meeting earlier this week with local police chiefs including Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, President Joe Biden seemed to recognize that.
No single federal program is going to solve such a complex problem, but Biden's seems to at least understand the complexity of it.
The program presumably would crack down on the flow of illegal guns into Illinois. The Chicago Sun-Times estimates that about 60% of the guns coming into Chicago are from out-of-state, much of it through an I-65 pipeline through Indiana.
Biden also understands how naive the defund-the-police fantasy is, that inherently, police must be a big part of any solution. The federal program would direct $350 billion into more and better community policing.
Much more needs to be done, of course. But recognizing that accountability must play a significant role in curbing crime is an important start.