Amid Surge in Homicides and Shootings, CPD Points to Overall Crime Reduction

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

The Chicago Police Department says that while homicides and shootings continue to spike across the city, overall crime numbers are trending down.

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CPD is reporting 105 murders during July 2020, an increase of 138% compared to the 44 reported in July 2019.

According to an analysis of CPD data, July 2020 had the largest monthly homicide count since September 1992, when the city reported 109 murders.

And since the beginning of 2020, Chicago has seen a 51% increase in murders and a 47% increase in shootings compared to the same period in 2019, police said.

At the same time, the department says categories like theft and criminal sexual assault are dropping significantly, leading to a 9% overall decline in crime. 

CPD is reporting a “26% decline in theft, and a 19% decline in criminal sexual assault through July 31, compared to the same year-to-date period in 2019,” the department wrote in a press release. “Additionally, robbery, theft and motor vehicle theft in Chicago remain at 20-year lows year-to-date.” 

The new figures come as a 9-year-old boy was shot and killed Friday night on the city’s Near North Side, the latest in a series of incidents over the past two months in which children were gunned down.

On social media Saturday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot once again condemned the violence, and pointed to additional federal gun control as one possible solution. 

“When a 9 year old’s life is ended by a bullet, we must all be outraged. These deaths are not mere statistics. And prayers alone will not sooth a broken heart,” she wrote. “It’s well past time that we as a nation begin aggressively treating it through wraparound services, mental health supports and street outreach interventions, support for our community police officers, and—yes—federal gun control to keep firearms from falling into the wrong hands.” 

July’s numbers bring Chicago’s homicides to a total of 439 for the first seven months of 2020. The city reported 495 murders in all of 2019. 

During an appearance Wednesday on “Chicago Tonight,” Police Superintendent David Brown pointed to a variety of reasons for the spike in violence, including COVID-19, ongoing disinvestment in Chicago’s neighborhoods, and a higher number of people being released from Cook County Jail during the pandemic. 

“The challenge, really the clarion call, is much more than what law enforcement is doing, or can do,” said Brown, who marked his first 100 days on the job Friday. “It’s about hopefully aspirational leadership to inspire others to also achieve at high levels, and have an impact on reducing crime in the city.” 

Brown has repeatedly blamed bail reform efforts and flaws in electronic monitoring programs as a factor in this summer’s violence. 

But other law enforcement officials, including Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, have cast doubt on that assertion.

“When the criticism of electronic monitoring came up, we were puzzled,” Dart said last week on “Chicago Tonight.” “In our programming, we were unaware of anybody who was involved with a crime [while on electronic monitoring].”

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