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Chicago Police Superintendent Stresses Patience As City's Crime Rates Skyrocket

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 11, 2012 6:00PM

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy (Photo Credit: Viewminder via the Chicagoist Photos Flickr pool.)

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is making the media rounds, stressing that measures taken by his department are having an effect on crime in Chicago and that a solution to the city's crime rates "is not going to happen overnight."

After a first quarter of 2012 that saw the homicide rate spike nearly 60 percent over the same time frame last year, 50 homicides in May, shootings that left eight people dead and 40 injured last weekend, a man beaten in the Gold Coast by a mob and eight teens—one charged as an adult—in a series of downtown muggings, McCarthy worked hard to prove that recent measures taken by his department have had an effect on the crime rate.

“Believe it or not, shootings are down about 8 percent in the second quarter. So, you know, this didn’t get this way overnight, and it’s not going to be solved overnight. The fact is, are we doing better than we were before? And believe it or not, we actually are. But having said that, none of this is OK.”

McCarthy also tried to separate the downtown muggings with the bloodshed in the neighborhoods.

“We’re talking about gang violence in the neighborhoods - that’s been going on for 40, 50, 60 years. Somebody getting mugged downtown on their way back from work - a whole separate issue, and we have to manage those differently. We have deployments that we have to make sure are accurate. We have to make sure the cops are where they’re supposed to be, and preventing those incidents from happening. We did it last year. We’ll get it done again.”

Both McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have lobbied the Illinois General Assembly to pass legislation that would allow law enforcement agencies to target gangs with racketeering charges similar to federal RICO laws. McCarthy has repeatedly dismissed the theory presented by some criminologists that warm weather (in particular Chicago's unseasonably mild winter) played a part for the increase in homicides: their argument is that since it's warmer, more people are stepping outside, and more criminals are stepping outside with guns.

Regardless, Chicago's murder rate in 2012 has increased. Here is a list of homicides in Chicago through May 31, culled from the city's Open Data portal.

2012 Chicago Murder Statistics

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Tracy Swartz, reporting for RedEye, has also been tracking Chicago's homicide rate. Using data compiled by the Chicago Tribune, Swartz lists 224 homicides through June 9.

Emanuel, meanwhile, is having second thoughts about getting CeaseFire, the grass roots anti-violence campaign that was the subject of last year's critically lauded film The Interrupters, involved in curbing the violence in South and West side neighborhoods.

Earlier this month, Emanuel said he was proceeding with caution in forging a relationship with CeaseFire, prompted by reports that six CeaseFire workers were charged with crimes in the past five years. After a Memorial Day weekend in which 10 people were killed, the Police Department said they would enlist in CeaseFire to help curb neighborhood violence. Still, Emanuel said the city would not write a "blank check" to CeaseFire to fund their efforts.