The murder total across Chicago’s largest suburbs rose by more than 10 percent last year, says the Chicago Tribune. The increase prompted police to try tough tactics credited with reducing bloodshed in the city. The increase in towns with more than 30,000 residents has been fueled by gang activity, the flight of criminals from Chicago, and creeping poverty, say law enforcement officials and criminologists. The jump has been particularly evident in Cook County’s south suburbs, where authorities have noticed an alarming spike in gang activity.
Nationally, the murder rate has held nearly constant at about 5.5 per 100,000 since 1999. “The suburbs aren’t what they used to be–they’re not a haven away from gangs and violence,” said Arthur Lurigio, a criminologist at Loyola University Chicago. Aurora and Cicero, among others, have slowed or reversed upward murder trends by emulating the aggressive tactics and community-based policing efforts of the Chicago Police Department. Some suburbs have increased saturation patrols around gang hotspots, worked with federal authorities to break drug rings or focused on helping young people susceptible to gang recruitment.