City preps to fight summer violence

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -- In a move to make Chicago safer, city leaders are adding body cameras and youth programs this summer.

So far this weekend, two people have died and another eight were wounded from gun violence in Chicago. On Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced support for a youth jobs program and new police gear.

CPD has expanded on a body camera pilot program. Originally started in the Shakespeare police district, the program will fan out to 6 more districts including Austin, Wentworth, Deering, Ogden, South Chicago and Gresham.  These districts combined cover about one third of the city.

Officers responding to calls will also be trained and equipped with Tasers starting June 1.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Sunday the city will step in and fund 65 youth summer jobs that were cut thanks to a lack of a state budget.

“This is not a way to lead a state so all of us are being asked to do more, because our state is unfortunately doing nothing and doing less,” said Mayor Emanuel.

The city is giving the youth employment program about $150,000 to save 65 summer jobs for youth this summer at Bikes N’ Roses, on the west side in Belmont Cragin.

Lizeth Romero says it's not just about learning to fix a bike, but learning life skills and staying off the streets.

“Making sure that they are being productive in a safe environment and not at risk on the violent streets of Chicago,” said Romero, who has been involved in Bikes N’ Roses for two years.

This initiative comes as CPD received word 450 new body cameras are on their way. The mayor says the Interim Superintendent Eddie Johnson and other commanders will also be sporting the new gear. 

“If you are going to ask the beat officer who is the backbone of our police department to wear body cameras, part of our transparency and accountability, the Superintendent is going to show that he too wants this, so that is becomes part of the culture of our police department,” said the Mayor.

The students participating in Bikes N’ Roses rode their bikes to Springfield last summer to demand action on the budget. The students plan to ride to Springfield again if the budget stalemate continues.