On Sunday, anti-violence activists gathered once again to speak out against Chicago violence. Community members and local religious leaders called for "28 Days of Peace" following a weekend that left seven dead and more than a dozen others wounded in gun violence across the city.
The anti-violence rallies and marches seem to be more frequent these days, but Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said Monday that the city's murder rate is down--while media coverage of Chicago violence has gone up.
"Despite reading the screaming headlines and the nonstop coverage that these violent incidents receive -- as well they should -- the fact is that the decline in violence over the past two decades is significant," Weis told reporters Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune. He also released charts and statistics to illustrate his point. (CPD charts in slideshow below)
While the tragic deaths of three Chicago police officers since May has certainly drawn national attention to the city's violence, police say the increased media coverage is likely the reason why more Chicagoans are feeling like violent crime has increased.
The Tribune reports:
Chicago is not alone in this image problem, an expert said. Crime has become easier to cover with technology, and 24-hour news organizations demand more stories.
"Crime gets amplified," said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston. "People's perceptions of crime [are] totally out of touch with the statistical reality. It's not a headline-grabber."
Weis stressed to reporters that he was not trying to downplay Chicago violence--just trying to put things into perspective.
But the police officer who runs the popular police blog, Second City Cop, says the increased coverage is not just a public relations issue:
Yes, crime is down in certain categories, but it masks the crimes that are up.
Shootings are up. Shootings with multiple victims are way up and probably account for most of the increases seen citywide. And it doesn't help that most articles in the media end with "No one is in custody, Area 2 Detectives continue to investigate."
Arrests and convictions are down. Significantly. Clearance rates are under 50% for most crimes and murder clearances are under 33% and dropping. There are fewer "success stories" of killers being caught, prosecuted and sentenced to decades in prison.
Among other things, the Second City Cop blogger blames early prisoner release, less officers on the street and poor leadership for the spike in violence.
Following the death of Officer Michael Bailey last month, Mayor Daley said he would hire 100 new police officers, which most consider to be a drop in the bucket.
Meanwhile, activists are hoping a call for peace will work this time.
"It only takes 21 days to break a habit so hopefully we can change some minds," Reverend Ira Acree told Fox Chicago.
Check out the charts the Chicago Police Department released Monday here: