(Chicago Sun Times) As Chicago endured a devastating surge in gun violence last summer, scores of people with long rap sheets stood atop the Chicago Police Department’s secret watch list, newly obtained records show.
One of the men had been arrested 12 times for violent crimes, all before turning 20. He’d also been charged with illegal gun possession. Two others each had been arrested eight times for violent crimes and caught three times with guns. Another man had been busted three times for illegal guns, racked up four arrests for violent offenses and been shot twice.
“We have 1,400 individuals that drive this gun violence in this city,” police Supt. Eddie Johnson said in August, assuring the public his department was keeping tabs on the people on its closely guarded “Strategic Subject List.” “We’ve gotten very good at predicting who will be the perpetrators or victims of gun violence.”
Yet the list is far broader and more extensive than Johnson and other police officials have suggested. It includes more than 398,000 entries — encompassing everyone who has been arrested and fingerprinted in Chicago since 2013.
Nearly half of the people at the top of the list have never been arrested for illegal gun possession. About 13 percent have never been charged with any violent crime. And 20 of the 153 people deemed most at risk to be involved in violent crime, as victim or shooter, have never been arrested either for guns or violence.
That’s according to a version of the list that the police department released to the Chicago Sun-Times after a lengthy legal dispute.
The police concluded the people who hadn’t been arrested for guns or violence were at great risk to commit a violent crime or become the victim of one — and, as a result, should be watched closely — because they:
• Had been shot or assaulted.
• Had been identified by the police as a gang member.
• Or recently were arrested for any crime, even a nonviolent offense.
The police say the list helps them determine which people they need to target for warnings or offers of help.