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Chicago Has Had Nearly 100 Homicides So Far This Year

By Mae Rice in News on Mar 1, 2016 5:37PM

Crime scene tape (Photo by LukaTDB via Shutterstock)

In defiance of the passage of time, this year is looking a lot like 1999 in Chicago, at least in terms of homicides.

“Gun violence driven primarily by gang conflicts remained at an unacceptable level in February,” Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Gugliemi said in a recent statement. (In February alone, the city has seen 43 murders.)

However, perhaps the real story is that January and February have seen 95 homicides total—and 1999 saw the same, according to the Tribune.

For context: That’s roughly double the number of murders we saw in January of 2015, according to the Tribune. And as for 1999, it ended up with 643 murders, total—more than we’ve seen in any year in the past decade.

Though Gugliemi attributes the spike in homicides primarily to gang activity, it also comes at a time when the Chicago Police Department is in flux, trying to course-correct to avoid future scandals.

Recent scandals have includedthe Laquan McDonald dashcam video—which showed officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting the teenager sixteen times as McDonald walked away—and the fatal shooting of Quintonio LeGrier, who was mentally ill, and his neighbor Bettie Jones, who was shot “accidentally.”

However, Gugliemi says a rise in gun offense arrests and murder arrests are causes for optimism.

“Since the middle of February, gun arrests are up by 43 percent, and for the entire month of February, arrests for murder are up by more than 40 percent from last year,” he said in the statement.

Guliemi also noted that starting Tuesday, the policing process will get simplified, making it (at least theoretically) easier for officers to work effectively.

Based on officer feedback, “the Chicago Police Department - working together with the ACLU - will begin using a newly simplified version of the Investigatory Stop form (ISR),” he said.