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A Perfect Storm Has Led To a Huge Increase In Chicago Crime

Posted by 
Ash Jurberg
Ash Jurberg
 20 days ago

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People protesting, Lake View, ChicagoPhoto by Max Bender on Unsplash

Chicago has seen an increase of 33% in homicides over the first three months of the year compared to 2020. Over the same period, shootings are up nearly 40%.

This is despite the fact that Chicago saw a huge increase in homicides last year. On one deadly day last year, Chicago reported 18 homicides, the largest number for the city on record.

A report by CNN said a perfect storm of factors led to the increase in crime not only in Chicago but across many American cities.

"Economic collapse, social anxiety because of a pandemic, de-policing in major cities after protests that called for abolition of police departments, shifts in police resources from neighborhoods to downtown areas because of those protests, and the release of criminal defendants pretrial or before sentences were completed to reduce risk of Covid-19 spread in jails -- all may have contributed to the spike in homicides." CNN Report on Increased Crime

The Chicago Police Department has also struggled with the coronavirus pandemic. Over 3000 employees of the Chicago Police Department became infected with COVID-19.

What is some good news?

While shootings and homicides up, there is some good news for Chicago residents. Overall, crime in Chicago is down 27% in the first three months of 2021 compared to 2020. This is due to the decrease in assault, burglary, and theft.

The CPD decided to focus on carjackings which had doubled in 2020. In February, Chicago police Supt. David Brown added 40 officers and four sergeants to a carjacking task force. This has seen almost immediate results, with carjackings in March 33% lower than in February.

Additionally, the CPD has had success with the recovery of guns. Over 2,700 guns were recovered in the first three months of 2021, up 25% from last year. Of those, over 100 were assault weapons. Chicago Police also reported they made over 1,600 gun arrests this year, a 22% increase from 2020.

Will it get worse over summer?

There is concern that violent crime will continue to increase over the summer.

“The problem isn’t going away. People in my world are very nervous about the summer of 2021.” Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab.

Nearly three-quarters of Chicago’s homicide increase in 2020 was concentrated in a cluster of eight of the city’s 25 police districts. These were almost entirely in Chicago’s predominantly Black South Side and largely Hispanic West Side.

Brendan Deenihan, the head of the detective bureau for the Chicago Police Department, has said while places such as New York and California imposed mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes that assisted in getting guns off the street, Chicago was slower to do so.

"It's political; it's institutional; it's the Chicago way," Lance Williams, a former anti-violence outreach worker on the South Side and now a professor at Northeastern Illinois University.

Lance Williams, a former anti-violence outreach worker, and professor at Northeastern Illinois University, says more money needs to be invested in reducing violence. "We're spending what, $16 million, on anti-violence? This is a multibillion-dollar problem that has been with us for generations."

The perfect storm

Susan Lee, the former deputy mayor for public safety who resigned last year after less than 16 months in the role, agrees that there is a perfect storm of factors leading to Chicago's increase in violent crime. "Chicago has always had a violence epidemic, by sheer volume. But the pandemic, coupled with the loss of legitimacy of government in the post-George Floyd era, really brought forth a perfect storm, in terms of violence in the communities that were already suffering."

Let's hope that the police force and the people of Chicago can end this perfect storm.

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