The Chicago Police Department this month unveiled a gun offender dashboard, a publicly accessible website that tracks adults charged with gun crimes in Cook County.
“We have to create a culture of accountability in the city,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference announcing the dashboard. “We have to let people know that continuously going to pick up illegal weapons and use them … know there’s got to be some accountability. And right now I don’t think we have that, because we keep seeing the same people.”
The database has come under sharp criticism from Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli. “This website uses the vague term ‘gun offenders’ to create a false narrative of what’s truly occurring,” Campanelli said in a statement. “Let’s set the record straight – the term ‘gun offender’ also includes anyone who illegally possesses – and doesn’t shoot – a gun for his or her own protection. This is the unfortunate reality for too many residents who live in a city that continues to be plagued by gun violence.”
Some activists and community leaders have echoed Campanelli’s criticisms. “When the police use terms like ‘accountability’ and ‘deterrence’ in relationship to bond decisions, they’re jumping the gun and they’re essentially seeking a sentence before conviction,” said Sharlyn Grace, director of the Chicago Community Bond Fund. “The superintendent’s comments sort of boil down to a desire to punish people while they’re still presumed innocent.”
Campanelli joins “Chicago Tonight” in discussion.