Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pointing to a bright spot in Chicago’s struggle with its rising homicide rate, praising a police crackdown aimed at reducing violent crime in two of the city’s most dangerous areas, reports the city’s Tribune. Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy have been criticized for disbanding specialized strike forces used by previous administrations to target troubled neighborhoods and relying instead on beefing up beat patrols. But after weeks of defending that decision in the face of a nearly 38 percent increase in homicides, the mayor’s pronouncement Thursday was a tacit acknowledgment that saturating hot spots with extra officers works.
In January the administration announced that gang enforcement, narcotics and patrol officers in the Englewood District on the South Side and the Harrison District on the West Side would focus almost exclusively on “conflict zones.” The concept was to raise police presence, eliminate corner drug markets and stay in the roughly 16-square-block areas to maintain the peace instead of quickly running off to clean up the next trouble spot. Emanuel credited that approach for reducing homicides by 43 percent in Englewood and 29 percent in Harrison since the strategy was adopted.