Emanuel seeks to highlight drop in violent crime

By Bill Ruthhart and Jeremy Gorner, Chicago Tribune reporters
8:59 p.m. CST, December 16, 2013

The country has heard a lot about Chicago’s crime rate this past year due to its high rate in crime which closed out at 511 homicides citywide. With 2013 coming to a close, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought Monday to highlight a drop in the city’s violent crime numbers compared with last year’s spike in homicides and shootings that left Chicago with more killings than any other U.S. city.

For most of this year, Chicago has been on pace for a reduction in homicides after last year which saw a 17 percent increase, but the mayor also has had high-profile reminders that the city’s violent crime problem has not been solved.

When Emanuel took office in 2011, McCarthy disbanded the Police Department’s strike forces that focused on high-crime areas, instead opting for more officers on neighborhood beat patrols.

Change didn’t come until after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was fatally shot in a park near President Barack Obama’s home. The administration moved 200 officers off desk duty and spent heavily on overtime to flood 20 dangerous neighborhoods with additional police. The city is on pace to spend $93 million in police overtime this year, and Emanuel has set aside $72 million for next year.

But on Monday, the focus was on numbers more than strategy.

Emanuel pointed to a Yale University professor’s report that concluded that Chicago is on pace this year for its lowest violent crime rate since 1972 and its lowest homicide rate since 1967.

With 15 days left in the year, there have been 395 homicides citywide. While the final number will be far lower than last year’s 511, the number is closer to the 437 homicides in 2010 and 434 in 2011. Still, despite having fewer residents, Chicago has outpaced the 316 homicides in New York as of Dec. 8 and 240 in Los Angeles as of Dec. 7.

The 20-page Yale analysis was compiled by Andrew Papachristos, a Chicago native and gang violence expert. McCarthy’s “Two Degrees of Association” strategy, which identifies people who are most likely to fall victim to violence or commit violent acts themselves, was inspired by Papachristos’ research.
Papachristos said he released his report as part of a book he’s writing on Chicago gangs. Asked Monday if he was surprised that the Emanuel administration pointed to the report as evidence that its crime-fighting tactics are working, Papachristos laughed.
“The last few pages of my report are clear: I don’t say the decrease is attributable to anything,” he said. “I think that’s what happens in the political world, right?”
The change is clear that crime has reduced in Chicago, Emanuel made great moves and let’s hope the change continues to improve Chicago into 2014 and beyond.

Read more here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-emanuel-mccarthy-chicago-crime-met-1217-20131217,0,1124207.story

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