Chicago likely will end the year with its lowest murder tally since 1965 because of a huge decline in killings in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. There were 418 killings through yesterday — 25 percent fewer than the same 11-month period of 2003. Mayor Richard Daley ordered the Chicago Police Department to focus on cutting the homicide rate after the city suffered the dubious title of murder capital by outpacing New York and Los Angeles in 2001.
Chicago saturated high-crime neighborhoods with officers. It boosted gang intelligence by wiring informants with recording devices and questioning drug suspects about more serious crimes. It improved computerized crime analysis and installed surveillance cameras. Community groups stepped up efforts to intercede in gang conflicts. “I think it’s a very impressive story,” said criminologist Dennis Rosenbaum of the University of Illinois a Chicago. “It’s about the superintendent (Phil Cline) getting everybody on the same page. That page is focused on violence reduction, focused on gangs and guns and drugs; really trying to take out the drug markets. The deployment is more efficient and surgical.” As Chicago’s killings drop, New York’s homicide rate is flat and Los Angeles is seeing a more modest 7 percent drop. Still, those cities are relatively safer. Although they’re much more populous than Chicago, they have similar murder tallies: Los Angeles had 456 killings as of last week and the Big Apple reported 466 through Saturday. With fewer killings, Chicago detectives have more time to work on each case, police spokesman David Bayless said. They have solved 46 percent of cases this year, compared to 40 percent in 2003.