Chicago saw a roughly 16 percent decrease in homicides in 2017 compared with 2016, the deadliest year in two decades, but the city still finished the year with a death toll that, before 2016, was not seen since the early 2000s.
The city reached 670 homicides in the past year, according to data kept by the Tribune, down from the 792 in 2016 when it hit a level of gun violence Chicago had not seen since the mid-1990s.
“It’s no secret that some of our neighborhoods have felt the effects of illegally obtained firearms,” Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters just after the new year started Monday morning, “and the offenders who are willing to use them for far too long.”
Despite the reduction from 2016, homicides from the past year surpass those in 2014 and 2015, when the city reached 494 and 446, respectively, according to the Tribune’s data.
Before 2016, the last time Chicago broke 600 killings was in 2003, according to data kept by the Chicago Police Department.
In overall shootings, Chicago reached more than 3,500, down from the more than 4,300 of 2017 but up from the more than 2,900 of 2015.
Figures released by the Police Department tallied the 2017 homicide total at 650, compared with 771 for 2016. The numbers differ because, unlike the Tribune, the department does not count homicides on expressways as well as fatal shootings by police officers and homicides considered justified.
Johnson said the reduction has sparked hope in some neighborhoods, and he credited the decrease to community engagement and data-driven policing.
He pointed to a sharp decrease in homicides in the Englewood and Harrison districts, 43 percent and 26 percent, respectively, over 2016, which were the first of six districts to be equipped with intelligence centers that use real-time data.
“There’s still a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re heading in the right direction,” Johnson said.
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