At the end of his first year, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis had faced angry aldermen, questions about low morale and arrests, and a troubling double-digit homicide increase. Nearing the end of this year, homicides have dropped by 11 percent, apparently reversing the 2008 spike and bringing the city more in line with a decline that started in the early part of the decade, says the Chicago Tribune. There had been 453 homicides through Monday, compared with 509 at the same time last year. Shootings were down 6 percent. “I said at the end of the year that 2008 was the year of transition,” Weis said. “I (expected) 2009 to be the year of results.”
Experts cautioned against blaming or crediting any one person or strategy for a one-year crime trend, but police officials said several efforts launched this year have chipped away at the violence. City gang teams were reorganized, and they were given a new mission: more search warrants and fewer street-corner drug investigations. They were also told to ramp up their use of informants so they could make more informed arrests. In the districts, commanders and community members say they’ve been working — from tracking gang anniversary dates to dog-walking — to make a difference on the blocks where they police and live. “(Last year) was the anomaly,” said criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. “This year is part of the pattern.” Weis doesn’t agree that the 511 slayings in 2008 were too out of step with the declines of the decade, compared with the 1990s when homicides were still in the 900s.