Brett Appelman Completes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Ice Bucket ChallengeBrett Appelman was nominated to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and donations to help find a cure for the rare neurological disorder.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you already know and have likely done the challenge yourself. As of right now, donations to the ALS Association are through the roof. They’ve received more than $75 million in donations, up from $2 million at this point last year.

Brett challenged his brother Avery Appelman, who also accepted and undertook the challenge. Check out Brett’s video below and then swing over to his brother’s blog to see more ice bucket challenge videos. We are unable to embed the video directly onto the blog, but you can click here to view the video in its entirety.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to this cause. We will find a cure! Click here to donate to the ALS Association.

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A Closer Looks At Crime in Chicago

Chicago Crime RatesThe Chicago Tribune recently produced a piece that offers a comprehensive look at crime in Chicago over the past 14 years. Violent crime, property crime and quality of life crimes have all declined over the past decade, but let’s take a closer look at how crime fluctuates in the Windy City.

Crimes By Month

It should come as no surprise to any regular reader of our blog that crime rates spike during the warm summer months. Of the summer months, July was by far the most popular month for crime. Violent crime peaked in July in 12 of the last 13 years (full 2014 data not yet available), and property crime peaked in July in nine of the last 13 years. Quality of life crimes, which are defined as crimes that “demoralize community residents by contributing to physical disorder or social decay” – think vandalism, graffiti and prostitution – occurred much more sporadically than violent and property crime.

Although violent and property crimes generally spike during the summer, the overall rate of these crimes has dropped dramatically over the past decade. In July of 2001 they were:

  • 14,511 reports of property crime
  • 9,652 instances of quality of life crimes
  • 4,471 documented violent crimes

In July of 2013, the reported numbers were:

  • 9,912 reports of property crime
  • 5,967 instances of quality of life crimes
  • 2,604 documented violent crimes.

Crime By Location

As you might expect, some neighborhoods experience more crime than others. The breakdown can be seen below.

Violent crime rates

1. Riverdale (3.2 reports per 1,000 people)

2. Washington Park (3.2/1,000)

3. West Garfield (3.1/1,000)

4. West Englewood (3.0/1,000)

5. Englewood (3.0/1,000)

Property crime rates 

1. Loop (13.6 reports per 1,000 people)

2. Fuller Park (8.5/1,000)

3. Chatham (6.5/1,000)

4. South Deering (6.0/1,000)

5. Near West Side (5.8/1,000)

Quality of life crime rates 

1. West Garfield Park (9.8 reports per 1,000 people)

2. Fuller Park (8.2/1,000)

3. North Lawndale (7.2/1,000)

4. East Garfield Park (6.4/1,000)

5. Austin (6.2/1,000)

For more information about the report, head on over to the Chicago Tribune’s crime section.

Illinois State Troopers Assisting Chicago PD

Chicago PDIllinois state troopers are teaming up with the Chicago police department in a month-long effort to cut down on street violence in some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Nearly 40 state troopers were assigned to the department’s Fugitive Unit as part of the 30-day trial. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn said the troopers would be assisting Chicago police in apprehending wanted suspects with known violent tendencies.

“They will be going after the worst of the worst, looking for people wanted on murder warrants,” a source told the Chicago Sun-Times. “The fugitives may be wanted on the South Side, but who knows where in the city they’re hiding.”

The FBI is also lending a hand. The Bureau assigned 65 agents to the streets to assist in gang suppression.

“This is a new tactic the FBI is using in fighting crime,” an FBI spokeswoman said, “by working in a concentrated area and a concentrated time on the street — although the FBI has been working hand in hand and day in and day out with the police department.” 

The FBI hopes to quell gang activity by collecting intelligence and surveying street-corner drug deals. They believe tracking low level drug dealers will lead to arrests, seizure of weapons, and hopefully help track down suppliers. The suppression missions are expected to take place on Thursdays and Fridays over the next three to four weeks.

“We have to go to where the problems are and that means working the streets,” a police source said.

Brett Appelman comments

Although there have been reports that violent crime is down this year, summer is typically the season when the most crime occurs. Law enforcement refers to this period as the “summer surge,” and it certainly seems like crime has picked up over the past few weeks.

As I’ve said before, the reason for the summer surge is two-fold. The main reason is because school is out of session. Without school, there are more youth on the streets, and oftentimes this can lead to a spike in crimes of opportunity. Teens are more likely to be out late since they don’t have to be in school the next day, and this can lead to more kids being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The second reason for the spike is the weather. The warm summer weather means more people are outside. A robber would much rather steal a purse or rob a liquor store in June than in December. The warm weather also means more people are out at the bar, the beach, or in the park for a barbeque. Oftentimes alcohol is involved, and sometimes that can escalate an a situation.

Hopefully these law enforcement officials stay safe and are successful in removing some drugs and weapons from the city streets.

Related source: Chicago Sun-Times, NBC Chicago

Curbing Racism in the Criminal Justice System 

InjusticeIt’s no surprise that America’s criminal justice system disproportionately condemns people of color, specifically blacks and Hispanics, but new data suggests that highlighting racism isn’t the best way to spur social change.

The study’s findings show that people aren’t exactly head over heels for change if they aren’t the ones affected by the current system. In fact, informing white people about the disproportionate stats actually hurts the chances of prompting social change. As Vox.com put it, “Even when whites believe the current laws are too harsh, they’re less likely to support changing the law if they are reminded that the current prison population is disproportionately black.”

Let me say that again.

“Even when whites believe the current laws are too harsh, they’re less likely to support changing the law if they are reminded that the current prison population is disproportionately black.”

Fascinating Studies

Researchers conducted a social experiment to see how race affected a person’s view of the criminal justice system. Study coordinators separated participants into two groups and showed them a video depicting a proposed bill called the “Three-Strikes” law. The video was identical save for the depiction of the prisoners. One video showed a prison population that was 25 percent black, while the other video depicted a prison population that was 45 percent black.

After the viewing, both groups decided that the three-strikes law was too harsh, but get this. Those who watched the video that depicted a 45 percent black prison population were less likely to sign a petition to change the law! More than half of the 25 percent group signed the petition, but only a quarter of those in the 45 percent group signed it.

As researchers put it, “the blacker the prison population, the less willing registered voters were to take steps to reduce the severity of a law they acknowledged to be overly harsh.”

That wasn’t the only study to produce such findings. A similar study asked white New Yorkers about the stop and frisk program. Some were informed that the prison population was 40 percent black, while others were told it was 60 percent black. Both groups thought the procedure was unfair, but guess which group was more hesitant to sign a petition calling for change? You guessed it, the 60 percenters were more leery about spurring change.

So what is the best way to call for change? Do you have any ideas? It’s certainly mindblowing that highlighting inequality is actually a bad way to achieve equality.

Related source: Vox.com

Chicago Crime Linked to Streetlight Outages

Broken streetlightsA new study by the Chicago Department of Transportation found that the city crime rate increased seven percent when entire blocks of streetlights weren’t functioning correctly.

The report is concerning for a number of reasons. First, the city suspects that some criminals may be intentionally disabling streetlights to steal electronic parts, while others believe the darkness invites crime. Others say it’s a combination of both; criminals internationally cloak a street in darkness so they can carry out an illegal deed.

“When the lights go off, the shooting starts,” said Englewood resident Romona Burwell. “The next thing you know, there’s the police.”

Burwell added that the exposed wiring on some of the lights makes it easy for somebody to disable the light in a matter of seconds.

“They just reach up in and pull it down,” said Burwell.

Streetlight Data

The report also examined how quickly streetlight outages are fixed across the city. They found, on average:

  • It took 5 days to repair a block of downed streetlights.
  • It took 11 days to fix a broken streetlight if it was the only light out on the block.
  • Alley light outages took 15 days to replace.
  • Less than one percent of the city’s 327,000 streetlights are down on any given evening.
  • Battery increased 18% when an entire block of streetlights were disabled.
  • Theft, drug crimes and criminal damage to property also increased when the lights were out.

“We would look at the crime rate during the outage and then we would look at the crime rate in the exact same area but for periods just before and just after the outage occurred, so that way each area served as its own control and that made for a clean analysis,” Ph.D. student Zach Seeskin said of the study.

CDOT spokesperson Peter Scales said the study shows how important it is to fix streetlights as quickly as possible, especially when the whole block is affected.

“The conclusions of the study confirmed the practice we already have in place, which prioritizes the repair of full blocks of downed lights over single outages,” concluded Scales.

Related source: NBC News