Crime Prevention in Chicago
FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
And let's continue the conversation with Chicago native Walter Burnett Jr. He's an alderman for the city's 27th Ward.
Alderman Burnett, good to have you on the program.
Alderman WALTER BURNETT Jr (27th Ward, Chicago): Thank you for having me.
CHIDEYA: So you have two children. What was it like raising them in Chicago?
Alderman BURNETT: Well, my oldest son is - he's grown. It was challenging. You would always worry about him when he was a teenager being out there. And the police being as aggressive as they are, I would tell you, most African-American parents are always worried about their children being apprehended because the police is trying to do some buzz and they may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time so you're always concerned.
But you're also always concerned about the clamors going on in the street, if they go to a party or if they, you know, someone else and there's gang violence going on and different things happening in the community, you're always concerned about that. So, you know, I'm just like any other parent, you know. No matter what your status is in society, you know, kids are kids and, you know, most of them are good but there's always some bad apples in that environment.
CHIDEYA: You say that you're like any other parent but there are some parents who just aren't very good parents. I'm sure you're not one of them. What happens when you got a kid who might be on the edge and their parents have just checked out?
Mr. BARNETT: Well, let me say this. I know for one thing, at the age of 14, my son was not out in the street and we knew where he was. Most of the time, we would actually take him to where he was going to make sure he was going there. And we would constantly be on the phone and check on him. Even now, I have an 11-year-old. And, you know, I know a lot of parent probably can't afford this but we buy him a mobile phone. And we check on each other and check with each other, you know, after school or early in the morning. I mean, daily, we're checking on each other, making sure that he's okay and that we know where he is and if everything is okay.
You know, it's a shame in our society right now and I have a very diverse ward and one of my areas is very challenging. You have a lot of drug dealers and gangbangers utilizing 8-year-old and 9-year-old children to sell their drugs, hold their guns because they know if they get apprehended that they won't be penalized as an adult would and a lot of grown people are using these children.
And I think that's one of the reasons why this curfew law is very important in our community because it gives the police the advantage to apprehend these kids but also bring their parents to the table, who may not know that their - may not or may know that their kid is out there, selling drugs, trying to make a couple of dollars on the side to get some candy or some (unintelligible) or whatever the case may be in being used. It gives also an opportunity to bring those parents to the table to figure out, hey, you know, why are you out there? You know, and for that matter, it lets those parents know there are other people are looking at you, allowing your child to be out late at night at the age of 8, 9, 14, 15, 16 at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, which is unheard of.
Just recently, in the news we just had, a kid that just died in the van, he got burnt up. He was out all night and he was 14 years old. And he had burnt up in a van. They said he was in the van and a cigarette, he dropped a cigarette and the van burnt up and they found it the next day.
CHIDEYA: Well, all the men…
Mr. BARNETT: It was like - amazing, the parents didn't even know, you know, didn't recognize that he was missing. And so after the incident about…
CHIDEYA: Alderman, we have to let you go but thank you so much for sharing your stories and the Chicago's life.
Mr. BARNETT: Thank you.
CHIDEYA: Alderman Walter Barnett Jr. represents Chicago's 27th Ward.
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