Nearly half of Chicago-area residents who responded to a new poll for Tribune/WGN believe crime is rising. But the reality is that overall crime in Chicago is down when compared with last year and homicides are nearly flat, with no significant uptick compared with recent years. The telephone poll of 800 male and female heads of household from the six-county Chicago area began July 8, one day after Chicago police officer Thor Soderberg was gunned down in Englewood, Il.
Experts agree that these high-profile homicides, coupled with a bad economy and a steady stream of news about shootings, have fed a public perception that crime in Chicago is getting worse. The Market Shares Corp. poll – which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points – found that only 30 percent of Chicagoans feel their neighborhoods are safe.
“Police officers are the embodiment of authority,” said Arthur Lurigio, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Loyola University Chicago. “When officers are getting shot, that gives citizens a sense that the social order is completely collapsing. The average citizen, the regular guy and woman on the street, are going to think, ‘If they’re shooting police, what chance do I have?'” Homicides are up less than 1 percent in Chicago compared with last year; overall crime, including violent crimes such as criminal sexual assault and robbery, are down.