While Chicago's top cop is crediting a new strategy of police swarming high-crime areas of the city with last month's decreased homicide rate, he hopes another new push, announced Monday, will continue that trend into the warmer months ahead.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy on Monday introduced "Operation Impact," an effort to swarm 20 high-violence "zones" of the city with police foot patrols, DNAinfo Chicago reports.
"This is a tried and true method of reducing crime," McCarthy said of the operation, which is modeled after a similar initiative targeting crime hotspots in New York City.
The initiative is relying on new CPD officers who have completed 12 weeks of field training, according to NBC Chicago, and is already at work in the city's Gresham neighborhood, where seven people were shot inside a nightclub last week. The operation will continue to expand as new officers become available.
The 20 targeted "hot zones" -- home to 3 percent of the city and 20 percent of its violence -- are the same areas of the city that have seen an increased police presence thanks to the department doubling the number of officers approved to work overtime on their days off. According to the Chicago Tribune, despite a January spike of violence, homicides so far this year are down 35 percent in Chicago, when compared to 2012 numbers, and shootings are down about 30 percent through Sunday.
The announcement won the praise of Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), whose South Side ward has seen more than its fair share of violence in recent months.
“We’ve gone too much to the technology, too much to cars, horses and all terrain vehicles and not enough to the old fashioned policing," Brooks told CBS Chicago.
While the police overtime appears to have helped reduce violence in the short term, some have questioned whether it is sustainable given the city's financial struggles and concerns about the officers burning themselves out.