It’s difficult to make the case that Chicago is a safe place to live and work when three police officers are gunned down in two months, and a 13-year-old is shot 22 times, execution-style, in an apparent case of mistaken identity, says the Chicago Sun-Times. That’s why Mayor Richard Daley and Police Superintendent Jody Weis are walking a tightrope on a crime issue that, polls show, is resonating with the public.
They’re doing everything they possibly can without money — with the city facing a record, $654.7 million shortfall — to stop a raging gang war that’s terrorizing entire communities. They’re also fighting a public relations war. They’re trying to persuade jittery Chicagoans to ignore the fear factor because, bad as it seems, crime is going down. “The number of homicides today is far lower than a decade ago. But numbers don’t provide much consolation if you’ve lost a family member or a friend to violence or feel vulnerable to its awful grip,” Daley said Tuesday after a crime-fighting summit. Weis noted that crime has dropped for “19 consecutive months” and that July homicides were down 24 percent from the same period a year ago. He blamed a “24/7 news cycle” for creating the mistaken impression that crime is on the rise. “I would never stand here and say that the violence we’re suffering in Chicago is acceptable. It’s not. But I do think it’s important to frame things. For the past 20 years, we were hovering in the 800-to-900 homicide range,” he said. “We’ve cut that in half.”