Over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, 82 people were shot in 84 hours. Slate says the outbreak of violence stood in stark contrast to the message coming from Chicago City Hall in April, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy trumpeted police statistics that showed the city had seen its lowest number of murders for the first three months of a year in more than a half-century. Emanuel, up for re-election early next year, has highlighted the city's progress in curbing violence in what was the nation’s murder capital in 2012.
How do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory narratives? On the one had, the stats suggest that violent crime is falling in Chicago; on the other, the Windy City remains riddled by gang-related violence. The Fourth's bloody toll wasn't even unusual. Just last year, more than 70 people were shot, 13 of whom were killed, during the same four-day stretch. The sad reality is that by the time July 4, 2015, rolls around, we will have largely forgotten this past weekend's violence. There's a chance the dead and injured from this July Fourth won't be fully counted in Chicago's official crime statistics. Chicago magazine reported this year that the police department appeared to be using pretty much every trick in the book to deflate the city's homicide and violent crime numbers. A recent audit from the city’s inspector general that focused on assault-related incidents found that police were counting crimes with multiple victims as a single offense, an accounting trick that led to an underreporting of victims by 24 percent in the sample studied. That means a shooting that left a half-dozen people injured—as several did this past weekend—might register in the police books as a single shooting incident.