In the last two months, the Chicago Police officers have been killed in the line of duty, seemingly contradicting Superintendent Jody Weis’ claim that crime in Chicago is down.
Weis is right–based on the statistics; July 2009 recorded 57 homicides in the city, while the same period is 2010 marked 43. July averages 57.2 homicides per month and is one of the most violent months in the city.
For residents, violent crime, and crime in general, still tops the list of the city’s major problems.
Although crime statistics show a downward trend over the past 20-months, Weis admits that the city needs to do more, and a Chicago Police Officer’s blog, Second City Cop, refutes the claim that crime is a PR and number’s game.
According to NBC, “Weis attributes the negative perception to the 24 hour news cycle, and stood with Mayor Richard Daley, Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in announcing new initiatives to combat that perception.”
While city politicians talk about the perception problem, Chicagoans realize that perception is reality. In an effort to combat what has always been the city’s top problem, Mayor Daley announced that $9 million in stimulus funds will be used to hire 100 additional police officers, and 268 desk officers will be transferred back to street patrols.
The city will also enhance the “predictive policing program,” which analyzes crime data and moves officers to the areas where they’re needed. Predictive policing relies on both informants and city crime statistics, and Weis stated that the analysis, along with human intelligence, will strategically place officers on a day-to-day basis where violent crime is forecast to occur. The crux of the initiatives, however, is the city’s call for help from the public. Mayor Daley said that victims and witnesses have to come forward and cooperate with police investigations of violent crime.
Perception or not, the city is much safer than it was in 1992, a year that registered 943 homicides; the city’s death toll has fallen ever since, with the exception of 2001 which saw a slight rise in homicides. However, violent crime is not a numbers game, and for the victims–and their families–one homicide is one too many.