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FBI to Look for Ways to Reduce Violence in Chicago

A woman signs a makeshift memorial to three men who were shot and killed the day before as police comb the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Scott Olson)

By Michael Tarm

The new head of Chicago’s FBI office said he’ll look for ways his agents can do more to help stem homicide rates and other violent crimes in the nation’s third-largest city, though he added it’s not yet clear what more the FBI can do that it’s not already doing.

Robert Holley’s comments to The Associated Press in one of his first interviews since assuming his new post a month ago come amid calls by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois’ two U.S. senators and others for federal law enforcement to do more to combat violence in Chicago, which has hundreds of homicides each year.

Already, about 25 percent of Chicago agents work violent-crime cases, Holley noted. But given congressional spending constraints, shifting more resources to the gang, gun and drug crimes that underpin much of the violence could jeopardize other investigative priorities in Chicago, including corruption, counterterrorism and cybercrime, he said.

“Could I move resources from one investigative branch to another? I could,” said Holley. “But I would have to take away from other programs, and I don’t know if I am willing to accept that risk right now.”

Holley declined to say exactly how many agents in Chicago were assigned to counterterrorism, but he said a greater number is devoted to violent crime.

That was the first time Holley weighed in publicly on the topic. The newly sworn-in U.S. attorney for Chicago, Zachary Fardon, has faced similar questions.

Holley said he hasn’t yet met with Emanuel about any added role for the FBI in tackling violent crime. But he said he has broached the subject with Fardon, as well as with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Chicago’s killings topped 500 last year — the first time it hit that mark since 2008. Though the homicide rate has declined in 2013, some shootings, including the slaying early this year of 15-year-old honor student Hadiya Pendleton a mile from President Barack Obama’s South Side home, have put the issue of Chicago violence back in the national headlines.

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