Chicago Tribune: While Chicago ended 2014 with slightly fewer homicides than the year before, 327 more people were shot in the city — an increase of 14 percent, according to the Chicago Police Department.
The city has seen a marked drop in homicides during the past decade — a trend that’s been reflected across the country — with several years marking fewer than 500, down from the 900-plus slayings of the 1990s.
Across the city, 407 homicides were recorded in 2014, a 3 percent drop from nearly the same period last year, when there were 419, according to the statistics released Thursday. It was the lowest tally since 1965 when 395 people were slain, according to the department. Chicago’s final homicide tally for 2014 could climb if some of the department’s pending “death investigations” are reclassified as slayings later this year.
But the number of shooting victims increased 14 percent, to 2,599 from 2,272 in 2013, the statistics show.
When asked Monday about the rise in shooting incidents, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the 2014 total was still the “second lowest shooting number on record,” and also pointed to the city’s overall drop in crime. However, the department only began keeping track of shootings in 2011, after McCarthy was named top cop.
Chicago police last year continued to combat violence by flooding the city’s most dangerous streets with hundreds of extra cops. But the strategy is expected to bring police overtime spending to around $95 million by the time the city tallies the final figure for 2014, outstripping the budgeted amount by more than $20 million.
On average, more than 200 veteran officers worked overtime daily in 2014 in 20 so-called impact zones in the most crime-plagued areas of the South and West sides. Also, more than a dozen rookie officers patrol each zone on straight time, mostly on foot and some with bicycles.
The department also continued to work on its intelligence-based policing strategies to prevent retaliatory shootings and curb gang conflicts, which police blame for the bulk of violent crime. Those strategies include specialized units and beat officers sharing gang intelligence.
The department has continued to test innovative strategies like “two degrees of association,” which identified more than 400 people in the city most at risk of being involved in violence either as the perpetrator or victim. Top police officials and community leaders tried reaching out to those on the list, warning them they were going to be watched more closely by police, but also offering them social services.
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