Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chicago: Homicides Already Pass Mark for 2011, Defying Trend in Other US Cities

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chicago: Homicides Already Pass Mark for 2011, Defying Trend in Other US Cities

Article excerpt

With two months left in 2012, the number of homicides in Chicago has already surpassed the total count for all of 2011, a trend sharply at odds with other large US cities.

Deadly shootings over the weekend pushed the Chicago homicide total to 435, two more than the 2011 total of 433. Year-end homicide counts reached 436 in 2010 and 436 in 2009.

Most criminologists say murder rates need to be examined over a long time period to assess reasons for movement, whether up or down. In fact, the Chicago homicide rate is half of what it was in decades past. In 1991, for example, homicides in the city totaled 928.

However, the early bump in Chicago runs counter to trends in both New York City and Los Angeles, the two largest metropolitan areas in the US. Year-to-date homicides in New York City ending October 21 are at 339; in 2011, the total homicide count was 515. For Los Angeles, year-to-date homicides reached 241; the total homicide count was 297 in 2011.

This past summer was one of the deadliest on record in Chicago. Weekend shooting totals drew national attention and put the city on the defensive as it tried to explain the skyrocketing rate as an increase in gang-on-gang violence.

In July, the police department launched a comprehensive plan of action it called the Gang Violence Reduction Strategy, which focused on prevention to possibly reduce retaliatory violence. The plan also coordinated police efforts with other city services to target environmental factors that breed violence, including street graffiti, broken streetlights, and abandoned buildings.

According to city officials, the strategy is responsible so far for 1,492 arrests and the seizure of $122 million in narcotics. Last week, the city announced that, in targeting gang factions, the city prevented over 5,500 gang members from returning to the street.

One long-term strategy in the city is cracking down on gun ownership. …

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