By Don Babwin
The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday talked about sending state troopers or even the Illinois National Guard to help Chicago combat crime - an offer that Mayor Richard Daley didn't know was coming.
Appearing at a signing ceremony for a bill that toughens the penalty for adults who provide guns to minors, Blagojevich said "violent crime in the city of Chicago is out of control."
"I'm offering resources of the state to the city to work in a constructive way with Mayor Daley to do everything we can possibly do to help" stop this violence, the governor said.
Blagojevich said Daley had not asked for help and that he would call Daley later in the day.
Daley's spokeswoman Jody Kawada said the mayor welcomed a partnership on any issue but declined to comment until they knew more about what Blagojevich planned.
City police spokeswoman Monique Bond also said it was too soon to comment on the offer.
But she also took issue with the governor's contention that crime is "out of control" in Chicago. In fact, she said if the current murder rate holds, 2008 would be one of the least deadly years in the city in the last 40 years.
Violent crime has spiked in Chicago recently, however. Nine people were killed in 36 shootings during one weekend this spring and Chicago Public Schools officials say more than two dozen students have been killed by gunfire since last September.
Blagojevich had few details on his offer. Possibilities he mentioned were having state troopers work in lower-crime areas, freeing Chicago police officers for areas with more crime, or making temporary hires of retired city police and state troopers.
Blagojevich said it is far more likely that state troopers would be used than guardsmen. In fact, his office moved quickly after the governor's comments to stress in a news release that Blagojevich was not considering bringing in National Guard troops to the city.
"The only way the National Guard would be involved, if they are involved, is with the use of tactical helicopters that are currently used in narcotics operations," spokesman Lucio Guerrero said in a statement.
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