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Chicago Had More Than 2 Murders A Day In June, And There's No Quick Fix

By Mae Rice in News on Jul 1, 2016 5:00PM

Crime scene tape (Photo by LukaTDB via Shutterstock)

Chicago's gun violence is rising and relentless. The city saw 72 murders in June, according to the Chicago Police Department, which averages out to more than two a day. So far in 2016, 315 Chicagoans have been murdered—up 49 percent from the count at this time in 2015. The homicides resulted from a total of 355 shootings with 429 victims—and now we're headed into the Fourth of July weekend, which could be the most violent stretch of the year.

There's no easy way to stop the violence, though in a new report on the violence, the Tribune does analyze the problem in fresh ways. That gun violence disproportionately occurs on the South and West sides is well-established, but the Tribune notes that one quarter of Chicago's gun violence actually takes place in two police precincts (out of the 22 total in the city): Englewood and Harrison. It's concentrated in specific blocks in these areas, too, like the one west of Monroe Street and Kostner Avenue.

The city's patterns of violence are tied up in other entrenched citywide patterns, though: illegal handguns on the street, the one-two punch of weak social services and poverty, and a police department facing a Department of Justice probe that's not policing as vigorously as it used to.

Illegal handguns, the Tribune notes, are a bigger problem in Chicago in other cities—thanks, in part, to northwest Indiana's laxer-than-Illinois gun laws. CPD tries to combat this by taking illegal guns off the street: 4,300 so far this year, up 30 percent from last year. Our weak social services—made even weaker recently by the more-than-yearlong state budget crisis, which only semi-resolved on Thursday—also help contribute to the violence, trapping, the most vulnerable Chicagoans in poverty for generations.

And as Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson told the Tribune, there's a link between violence and poverty. "If you show me people without hope," he said, "I'll show you people that's willing to pick up a gun and do something with it."

The police department itself is a problem too, though. Cops haven't been making as many arrests as they used to, and perhaps relatedly, civilian trust in cops has been severely eroded since the city released the long-overdue video of a cop fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Though the city has made various efforts to boost trust in the police, including new transparency and oversight efforts, civilians still regularly document them behaving questionably, at best.

Police have downplayed this issue, so far. "We have an Orlando every month in Chicago, but catch a policeman hitting someone on video—oh, my God!" Dean Angelo Sr., president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said in a speech Tuesday. (He was referencing the shooting at Pulse nightclub, which killed 50 people.)

They haven't yet solved the problem of Chicagoans getting killed, either. CPD is taking some new initiatives going forward, though, they said in a Friday statement: 150 officers previously on desk duty are now patrolling the streets; they've expanded bike and foot patrols; and they've retooled their overtime system so officers work overtime on the same beats they patrol normally. It sounds good. Let's hope it works.

Read the full Tribune story referenced above here.