Chicago Crime Commission

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The Chicago Crime Commission is an independent, non-partisan civic watchdog organization of business leaders dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of organized criminal activity, especially organized crime, street gangs and the tools of their trade: drugs, guns, public corruption, money laundering, identity theft and gambling, founded in 1919. The police, the judicial system, politicians, prosecutors and citizens rely on the Chicago Crime Commission to provide advice on crime issues and to communicate vital information to the public.


Founded just before Prohibition in the Roaring '20s, local businessmen formed the Chicago Crime Commission to address the lawlessness prevalent in Chicago during the time. The businessmen who founded the crime commission did not think of themselves as a reform organization but saw crime as business work to which they applied business methods. The backlog of murder cases awaiting trial was reduced,[citation needed] while the public corruption and organized criminal activities of the Chicago Outfit were exposed. In 1930, the Commission first brought about the Public Enemies list, with Chicago gangster Al Capone as "Public Enemy Number One." The idea of such a list was co-opted by the FBI as the The FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

Today, the Commission's primary role is to ensure that business, government and law enforcement work together to address problems caused by organized criminal enterprises by:

  • Publishing The Gang Book, a training tool for law enforcement and educators on the Chicago area gangs and strategies for protecting the city and surrounding communities;
  • Publishing Friend and Foe, a centennial review of law enforcement successes and failures to inform and jump-start plans for future law enforcement initiatives;
  • Offering tools for citizens to report public corruption and crime anonymously to the right law enforcement agency through an interactive website and hotline;
  • Promoting Project Safe Neighborhoods, a highly successful gang and violence reduction strategy that resulted in a 38% drop in homicide rates in pilot areas;
  • Advising statewide and local partnerships on how to improve communications to prevent and respond to everyday crimes and organized criminal activities;
  • Conducting research and providing analysis on crime issues, specializing in those businesses associated with organized criminal activity; and
  • Offering the most comprehensive organized crime library possible.[citation needed]


Publications and archives[edit]

Owning one of the oldest and most complete historical archives on organized crime in the 20th- and 21st century, the Commission provides an important historical record of criminal activity and public corruption for professional research and education.[4] The Chicago Crime Commission maintains current information on crime issues and criminal activities involving organized crime, gangs and public corruption. Recent publications include: The Gang Book and Friend and Foe.

  • The Gang Book is a 272-page overview of Chicago area gangs,[5] including gang histories, gang insignias, gang leaders, gang criminal activities and gang migrations to Chicago's suburbs. The Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Public School System and other government agencies use The Gang Book in their law enforcement training programs. The Gang Book lists street gang and crime information aboand crime history in a decade-by-decade pictorial, featuring photographs, cartoons, newspaper articles, lithographs, fingerprints and drawings from the Chicago Crime Commission's extensive historical archive. Friend and Foe features law enforcement successes and failures [6] that can help guide today's solutions to crime issues.

Crime reporting[edit]

A non-government agency, the Commission acts an intermediary between citizens and law enforcement to help initiate investigations. The Anonymous Public Corruption Reporting Hotline is a web-based public corruption and crime reporting system[7] that gives government employees and concerned citizens an effective way to reach law enforcement anonymously. The Anonymous Crime Reporting Hotline accepts tips on general and gang-related criminal activities.

Public activities[edit]

The Chicago Crime Commission presents and sponsors presentations on current law enforcement issues and criminal justice issues, continuing its track record of exposing corruption and organized criminal activities and encouraging public debate on issues of public safety and national security. The Chicago Crime Commission hosts at least four events a year open to the public: (1) a mid-year member luncheon, (2) a golf benefit; (3) an annual dinner benefit; and (4) a holiday luncheon. The Commission accepts sponsorship and event purchases online at,[8] subject to availability and security clearance.


As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Commission receives funding solely from private citizens and businesses committed to improving the quality of public safety in their communities.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bill Barnhart, "Public Enemies: Chicago Origins of Personalized Anticrime Campaigns." Journal of Illinois History 2001 4(4): 258-270. ISSN 1522-0532

External links[edit]