For the first time in almost four decades, there will be fewer than 500 murders in Chicago this year. The murder count is down a staggering 25 percent from last year’s nation-leading 598 homicides, says the Chicago Tribune. “There are still too many shootings, there are still too many murders,” Police Superintendent Philip Cline said Friday, when the homicide total stood at 431. “But I never dreamed we’d be this low this year.”
After watching murder rates fall dramatically in New York and Los Angeles, Chicago officials poured swarms of officers onto streets where violence was at a boiling point. Dozens of corner drug markets were busted. Surveillance cameras were mounted on light poles to help keep dealers from returning. Still, a Tribune poll found 19 percent of Chicagoans living in high-crime areas feeling less safe this year than they did in 2003, and more than half have no idea there has been a decline in homicides. The most troubling issue on the horizon, police say, is the parole of nearly 25,000 Illinois prison inmates, most of whom will return to crime-ridden Chicago neighborhoods.