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Chicago Marks Lowest March Murder Rate Since 1959

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Apr 1, 2013 10:15PM

Chicago Police Superintendant Garry McCarthy. Photo Credit: Viewminder

Chicago Police Superintendant Garry McCarthy said Monday that the city put up the lowest March homicide total since 1959. There were 16 homicides in March, down from 52 in March 2012.

In the first three months of 2013, the city recorded a total of 70 homicides, down from 120 homicides in the same span of 2012. In January, there were 43 murders in Chicago, the highest January total since 2002. In February, the city recorded 14 homicides in February, the lowest monthly total since 1957.

But that might not mean much. CBS Correspondent Jay Levine writes:

If you weren’t paying close attention, you might have thought they were saying Chicago’s safer than it’s been in 50 years. In reality, it was simply a return to normal after a huge spike early last year.

Take a closer look at the numbers: 2013′s 70 first-quarter homicides was a major improvement over 2012′s 120 - but not over 2011 or 2010 or 2009.

McCarthy is downplaying the role of weather, as people are quick to point out March 2012 was a sauna compared to March 2013. McCarthy and others credit the new "hot zone" policing strategy, which added police officers working overtime in Chicago's most violent areas.

“It’s not one thing, it’s everything we do," McCarthy told CBS. "It has to do with our deployment; it has to do with saturation deployment, which we started in early February; it has to do with accountability; it has to do with putting the cops on the dots, and seizing guns; it has to do with good prosecutions; it has to do with community policing, which is something that we’re focusing on.”