CHICAGO—The Chicago Crime Commission says most city residents live within a few feet of gang operations. It's because there are more than 70 known gangs with up to 150,000 members.
The new Chicago Crime Commission Gang Book is said to be the most comprehensive look ever at the street gang problem throughout Chicagoland.
Commission President Jody Weis says Chicagoland has more gang activity than any major city. And in recent years, gangs have not only become splintered -- members and leaders are younger and recruiting aggressively in elementary schools.
"Some of these leaders are 15 to 17 years old, so it's not that unusual for somebody at that age to be able to influence somebody in second or third grade," Weis told reporters today at the Chicago Club, where the Chicago Crime Commission Gang Book was released.
Weis notes that the closure of public housing changed gang structures and added to the high homicide rates in recent years.
Another major trend is the widespread use of social media. Gang members are not only terrorizing the streets -- incidents are spilling over onto the Internet.
"Whenever an incident occurs, they immediately plaster their Facebook pages with the incident, the alleged offender, or even comments as to retaliation," says Cook County Sheriff's Superintendent Fred Diaz.
Fortunately, social media also helps authorities in investigationg crimes, or even anticipating things.
The Chicago Crime Commission Gang Book is intended to be a training tool for law enforcement, parents and community leaders. An electronic version is in the works for next year.