The Toothpaste Effect: Chicago Police Squeeze Gang Members Out of Chicago Into Western Suburbs

There are a few reasons why gang members are on the rise in some west suburbs.

(1) Gang leader send juveniles into Riverside to burglarize homes and steal flat-screen TVs, computers, cash, jewelry and more. Gang graffiti is also on the rise in Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest. Offenders would knock on a door, and ask for a random person’s name. If the resident said that person didn’t live at the home, the offenders would move on — until they found a door with no answer, then they would kick the door open, and burglarize the residence.

(2) More gang members are getting out of prison on ‘intensive gang probation.’

(3) In 2011, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy concentrated on investigation and enforcement on the Maniac Latin Disciples and the Spanish Cobras. The MLDs allegedly killed two young girls and Cobras allegedly killed an off-duty Chicago cop. The city doesn’t allow the gang members to live in their old neighborhoods after they get out of jail. Since it’s not safe to live in neighborhoods where rival gang members live, they move to the suburbs.

WEDGE or the West Suburban Directed Gang Enforcement is a task force of ten western suburbs working hard to counter those negative factors. WEDGE made 105 arrests in 2011, up from 88 in 2010, and up from 49 in 2009. Gang-related missions include traffic stops to monitoring ops, and interaction at summer festivals. One of the biggest improvements in efficiency stemmed from sharing a criminal database and other information between the ten suburbs, and sharing radio frequencies. WEDGE is hoping to get permission to communicate with the Chicago Police Department on their radio frequencies when they enter Chicago for investigations.

WEDGE includes ten Cook County police agencies: Berwyn, Brookfield, Cicero, Elmwood park, Forest Park, North Riverside, Oak Park, Riverside, River Forest and Stickney.

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