April 26, 2010 — -- Bringing rifle toting units of the National Guard into the streets of Chicago is not the solution to city's surge in murders, experts said today.
"It's a very bad idea," said Bill Bratton, the former police commissioner of both Los Angeles and New York City. "The National Guard is that last thing you want in a situation of combating violence in national cities."
Bratton and others recoiled at the request made Sunday by Chicago Reps. John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford, both Democrats, that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn deploy the Illinois National Guard to deal with the violence.
So far this year there have been 113 murders reported homicides, according to Chicago police statistics.
During that same period New York has had 139 murders and Los Angeles recorded 199, although both cities have larger populations.
The number of casualties Chicago has so far this year is only slightly higher than last year at this time, 109, and less than the 134 for the first four months of 2008.
Jim Wagner, former president of the Chicago Crime Commission, and other critics said that while they aren't sure what is motivating Fritchey and Ford to have such an extreme reaction, they think that it has to do not with the rate of casualties, but who those casualties are.
"It's not the number of murders, it's the type of people getting murdered," said Wagner. "We had recent incidents where very young children were caught in the gunfire, which were just unfortunate circumstances, not part of anything other than being in the wrong place. That's what I think has brought this about."
Quinn said today that he would not send in the National Guard unless Chicago Mayor Richard Daley asked for the guard. Daley in a brief news conference today didn't rule it out, but reacted coolly to the idea.
Fritchey argued that bringing in the National Guard is appropriate and compared the city's violence with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan