Photo: File photo, scene of 2016 Chicago police shoot-out; Wikimedia
For the first time in nearly 20 years, there have been more than 700 homicides in Chicago, marking a year of seemingly non-stop violence—with about a month left to go, according to a Chicago Tribune news report.
Regrettably, this is not the only statistic indicating increased violence in the city: nearly 4,050 people have been shot: 50% more than the year before. Likewise, the number of shootings has increased nearly 50% as well: from 2,224 the year before, to 3,315 so far this year.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson labelled the number of homicides so far this year as “unacceptable.” Johnson also put the blame for the violence on “a small subsection of citizens.”
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More than just a police problem…
However, Johnson also spoke to reporters about an issue beyond police control and one that involves the judicial system, and perhaps the legislative as well: “The police are doing their job… what we need help in is holding these repeat gun offenders accountable for this gun violence, and until we do that, we’re going to continue to see the cycle of violence.”
The Chicago Tribune news report stated that, “Crime experts caution about making year-to-year comparisons of homicides, arguing that long-term trends give a better understanding of how the level of violence in a city has changed over time.”
However, in actually reviewing the crime statistics provided by the Chicago Police Department more closely, “long-term trends” indicate the level of violence in Chicago has indeed increased in the past several years.
For example, murders have increased 86% since 2014; 82% since 2013; and 47% since 2012. And the number of shootings increased as well: 76% since 2014; 93% since 2013; and 44% since 2012.
Source: Chicago Police CompStat Report, Week 47
Superintendent Johnson indicated that the Chicago Police Department has formulated and compiled a “strategic subject list” based on a computer algorithm that determines about 1,400 mostly gang members considered most likely to shoot someone or become a victim of violence.
“It’s really a culture of death…”
And while gang-related violence and violence committed by gang members can account for some of the spike in violence, Reverend Marshall Hatch, a local Chicago pastor spoke of a greater concern involving young people in his community: “It’s really a culture of death… there’s a lot of fear and a lot of assumption that they’re not going to live long.”
Reverend Hatch’s remarks may address concerns with the perpetrators—but Chicago police personnel seem to have their own concerns.
A Culture of “Cautious Policing”?
Along with the increase in violent crimes, the Chicago Police Department dealing with an on-going U.S. Justice Department investigation, stemming from the fatal shooting of teenage Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer, and the fallout and backlash a video of the shooting has caused.
The Chicago Tribune recently interviewed Chicago police officers, who said they “had taken a more cautious approach to their work, concerned they could end up in a viral internet video, sued, or fired.”
As crime data trends appear to suggest, a “culture of cautious policing” and a “culture of death” could bode increasing problems with violent crimes in Chicago—which according to the report, has suffered far more homicides this year than Los Angeles and New York combined (approximately 560).
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