In ‘fiery’ letter, resigning US attorney says feds should target social media to fight Chicago crime

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U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon of Chicago submitted his required resignation on Monday while calling on the federal government to help fight crime in the city.

In a “fiery” letter (PDF) passed on to reporters, Fardon said the Department of Justice should implement the consent decree negotiated with the police department, the Chicago Tribune reports. He called on the feds to help curb use of social media by gang members.

Taunts on social media escalate until shots are fired, Fardon wrote. Then there is bragging on social media, followed by retaliation, “and then the cycle repeats,” he said.

“Don’t send in the National Guard; send in the tech geeks,” Fardon wrote. When gang members are identified as being at risk for gang shootings, Fardon said, “find a way to curb or real-time monitor that gang member’s social media accounts. If kids have convictions or overt gang affiliations, find a way to curb their social media. I recognize that First Amendment issues come into play, but let’s test those limits. Lives are at stake.”

Fardon’s letter called for five changes to help fight the violence. First, he wrote, “get that consent decree. You can’t stop our brand of violence without a top-flight police department. And you can’t have a top-flight police department on the cheap. For decades, CPD has been run on the cheap. Officers don’t have the training, the supervision, the equipment or the culture they need and deserve.”

A DOJ report on the police department found that there were systemic problems that prevent the support of good officers and checks on bad officers, Fardon said. “And so culture and morale suffer.”

“If you leave correcting those deficiencies to the vagaries of city politics, then you likely lose the long-term fight,” Fardon wrote. “This city’s history is replete with examples of saying the right thing, in some cases starting the right thing, but then losing focus.”

Fardon also said more assistant U.S. attorneys have to be assigned to the Chicago office. He suggested combining three federal agencies to fight crime: the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Working together, federal agencies and Chicago police could flood troubled neighborhoods, Fardon said. “Not just to arrest the bad guys but also to be standing on that corner where shots otherwise might get fired, to be breaking up those corner loiterers, and to be meeting and learning and knowing the kids, the people and the truth of who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and who isn’t yet formed and can be swayed.”

Fardon also called for creation of “youth pathway centers” and changes to the bail bond system in Cook County, which allows violent gang members with money to post bail but keeps nonviolent defendants in jail because they can’t afford to pay.




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