Chicago is close to ending 2011 with fewer murders than last year, which saw the lowest number of those violent crimes in nearly a half a century, says the Chicago Tribune. From January through Tuesday, there were 423 murders in Chicago compared to 431 through the same period last year, say police statistics. That is a steady decline since 2008, when the city had 513 murders. A year later, that number was down to 459. Overall crime is down by 8 percent this year.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has overseen a makeover in the patrol division that included shifting more than 1,000 police officers from desk jobs, lockups and two specialized units to beat patrols. Criminologist Dennis Rosenbaum of the University of Illinois at Chicago that if violent crime were to rise, it could be attributed to such factors as unprecedented contact between rival gangs, gang members looking to reclaim their authoritative positions in the neighborhood upon their return from prison, and instability in the illegal drug market. “This problem should not be the sole responsibility of the police,” Rosenbaum said. “Studies around the world consistently suggest that violence, including gang violence, is the result of concentrated poverty, low-functioning schools, stressors on the family that lead to family dysfunction, a culture of violence through entertainment, media and sports, discrimination and exclusion.”