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MSNBC ANNOUNCES MARATHON OF COOK COUNTY GANG SHOW

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Friday, July 30, 2010— A unique approach to combating gang violence throughout Cook County suburbs is set to be highlighted in a weekend marathon of episodes of the MSNBC series “The Squeeze,” Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Friday.

The three episodes airing from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday were taped in late 2009 and early 2010 by Chicago-based 20 West Productions. “The Squeeze” focuses exclusively on the gang-fighting efforts of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and its two gang units, highlighting the way the officers gather and share gang intelligence.

Because of the “no snitching” culture officers often encounter on the streets, the Criminal Intelligence Unit was established at the Cook County Jail, in part, to “squeeze” information from gang members once they have been arrested and are behind bars while awaiting trial.

Taking advantage of that intel, Dart restructured the county gang unit earlier this year. The new structure allows officers to be better deployed to gang hot spots throughout the suburbs. Those  efforts have led to numerous gang and drug arrests and increased partnerships between the sheriff’s office and other police agencies.

Sunday’s episodes - “Wanna Work a Number?” “A Necessary Evil” and “Play or Get Played” – highlight those efforts and are the first three episodes to air under the sheriff’s contract with 20 West Productions. Three additional episodes were taped with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Spring 2010 and are set to air later this year. MSNBC has already requested additional time to shadow the sheriff’s gang units this fall based on the successes seen through the 18 weeks that 20 West Productions spent filming these six episodes.

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