Chicago Murder Rate Down for Second Straight Year

January 1, 2019 Updated: January 1, 2019

Authorities in Chicago stated that the city’s murder rate declined in 2018, marking the second year in a row in which fewer people were killed in the Windy City than in the year before.

Chicago, sometimes described as the nation’s “murder capital” saw nearly 100 fewer murders in 2018 compared to 2017—a 15 percent drop, according to data from the Chicago Police Department’s end-of-year crime summary. Meanwhile, since 2016, murders as a result of a shooting have declined 31 percent in total.

This double-digit reduction was the greatest drop in homicides of any major American city, outpacing New York (0.37 percent drop), Los Angeles (9.2 percent drop) and Houston (6.64 percent drop), according to the data published Dec. 31.

Shootings, in general, are down by 32 percent in the city since 2016. But Chicago, the third largest city in the United States still had more murders than the combined total in New York City and Los Angeles, the No. 1 and No. 2 largest U.S. cities, respectively.

Other crimes such as burglaries and motor vehicle thefts and carjackings all decreased in 2018, compared to 2017.

Combined Effort

The continued decline of violent crime in Chicago was credited to a number of different key themes as part of the department’s efforts in creating a safer Chicago. Community partnerships, investments in data-driven policing, and the creation of strategic decision support centers (SDSC) all helped reduce crimes.

The centers have been proven to aid officers in responding more quickly to incidents, leading to more arrests, according to the summary. The SDSC centers created technology-based nerve centers for detectives and have been rolled out to 20 out of the 22 police districts. The centers rely on mobile technology, crime cameras, and gunshot detection systems.

The manpower of the Chicago’s police department also improved significantly. The city achieved its goal of adding over 1000 new officers in just under two years.

In 2017 President Donald Trump ordered federal law enforcement to send dozens more prosecutors and agents to Chicago. Trump said the killings in the city reached “epidemic proportions” and said that he would be sending federal help to combat the violence.

During 2018, Chicago also saw one of the highest levels of collaboration and partnership of local and federal law enforcement agencies including the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to the summary.

Last year also had the highest number of federal gun prosecutions in recent history. Officers took in nine percent more guns off the street in 2018 than 2017. In total, the department seized over 9,500 illegal guns, the highest number taken in five years—more than one illegal gun seized every hour of the year.

“Nearly 200 assault-style rifles were also recovered in 2018, including AK-47 and AR-15 rifles,” the summary said. “And while there is still work to be done, the reduction is believed to have contributed to the overall drop in shootings.”

In one joint investigation by the Chicago Police department with other local and federal agencies, they seized 445 grams of heroin, 230 grams of cocaine and $97,770 in illegal drug proceeds within the city’s Little Village neighborhood. U.S. Attorney John Lausch helped authorities with the federal charging of 20 individuals involved in the September 2018 case.

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