Chicago Murders, Overall Crime Rate Drop For 22nd Straight Month
For the 22nd consecutive month, crime figures in almost every category were lower this October than they were a year prior.
The murder rate in the city was on track to reach a potentially historic low. Through last month, there had been 379 murders in 2010; this was nine fewer than January-October 2009, and on pace with figures from 2007.
That year, the city recorded 435 killings, the lowest figure since 1965. If Chicago has a relatively tranquil November and December, it could come in below the 2007 total, though it seems unlikely that it will beat the 1965 rate of 395 murders.
Overall, the murder rate has been on a steady decline over the last 15 years. The early '90s saw a spike in murders, with over 900 killings in four consecutive years. Since that time, the murder rate has fallen sharply; with the exception of 2008, there have been no more than 500 murders per year in the last six years.
Still, the Chicago Police Department sees room for improvement.
"Nearly 55 percent of murders this year through the end of October were gang-involved, and we need to continue to strategically target the gang lifestyle - particularly guns and drugs - in order to decrease murders to our ultimate goal - zero," Superintendent Jody P. Weis said in a statement.
Weis's strategy with regards to gang violence has been met with some controversy. In August, he personally met with gang leaders, issuing an ultimatum that the next group responsible for a murder would face a harsh police crackdown.
The police delivered on the mandate, arresting over 60 members of the Black Souls gang responsible for the August 31 murder of 18-year-old Anthony Carter.
While it's too soon to attribute the crime statistics to the department's new gang policy, Weis hopes that it will continue to bring down the murder rate.
Chicago still sees more murders per capita than other major metropolises. In 2009, it saw a rate of roughly 16 bodies per 100,000 people; Los Angeles had around eight, and New York had fewer than six. Of the ten largest cities in the nation, only Philadelphia had a higher murder rate.
The CPD also touted decreases in other types of crime at a weekend press conference. Criminal sexual assault was down 7.6 percent, robberies dropped 11.6 percent and aggravated assault fell 12.2 percent.
Meanwhile, the police also reported a major drug bust, seizing over $5 million in heroin and cocaine from a suspicious van on Friday afternoon: