Chicago Nears 500 Homicides For First Time In Five Years


Brought to Chicago from the FBI to improve the image of a scandal-plagued Chicago Police Department, Jody Weis saw his first year as superintendent dominated by a substantial rise in violent crime, reports the Chicago Tribune. Weis spent much of the year fighting to improve officer morale, battling with aldermen who disapproved of his rapid overhaul of the command staff, and trying to develop new strategies–or revive old ones–to fight rising crime.

When arrest numbers went down, Weis ordered officers to be more aggressive. Still, the city is approaching 500 homicides for the year, a number the city has not reached since 2003. Weis acknowledged disappointment at this year’s rise in violence and admitted he made mistakes. Chicago is on track to end the year with a 16 to 17 percent increase in homicides and an increase in violent crime of about 3 percent. It’s in a tight race with New York City for the most homicides; by Dec. 14, New York had 492 homicides, the same as Chicago’s tally on Friday. Still, Weis said Chicago’s murder total for 2008 will be among the lowest in decades–the fifth lowest since 1965. He called the number 500 an “arbitrary bar.” Weis points to the usual suspects in rising crime: gangs, guns, and drugs. Deputy Supt. Steve Peterson said the dismantling of larger gangs may have contributed to more violence because of infighting. Weis hopes the shuffling of staff and jobs would bring reductions in crime in the new year. “2008 was a year of transition, and 2009 is a year of results,” he said.


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