Chicago’s McCarthy Trying Social-Network Murder Predictions


In Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, gunfire claims the lives of a dozen people and another 45 were shot and wounded, says the Chicago Sun-Times. The trend is casting the city into an unwanted national spotlight. Through the end of June, the number of murders in Chicago was up 37 percent over the same period last year, even as crime overall declined. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy — hailed as a “Braveheart”-like folk hero after getting out on the streets and leading his troops during the NATO Summit protests in May — is on the hot seat.

His key strategy — doing away with mobile strike forces that had been sent to crime hot spots, and putting more cops back on the beat — has been called a failure by some. Now, McCarthy is preparing to roll out a new tactic. Social scientists who have studied murder say they can predict who is most likely to become a victim of homicide. McCarthy wants to take that further. He's laying plans to have his officers study criminals' social networks to identify likely killers before they kill. “It's going to change the way we do police work,” McCarthy said. Citywide, McCarthy said, police have seen a “decrease in the increase” in shootings this year. Through March, shootings were up 40 percent citywide over the same period the year before, and murders were up 66 percent. Through the end of June, shootings were up by 9 percent compared to 2011, and murders by 37 percent. “This isn't declaring victory,” McCarthy said. “This is declaring that we're starting to move in the right direction.”

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