Murder rate jumps in 2008

CHICAGO That's a significant jump over 2007.

And on Wednesday, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis defended his department when asked about the jump in murders at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Weis spoke to reporters during an event to discuss what police are doing to ensure Chicagoans enjoy a safe New Year's Eve.

2008 started on a violent note - 2 people were killed New Year's Day in Logan Square. And, throughout the year, that number only climbed. So far, more people have been killed this year - 2008 - compared to last year.

"We're not satisified with those numbers. We never want homicides to be more than they were before. There's only one number acceptable for homicides and that's zero," said Supt. Jody Weis, Chicago Police Department.

So far this year, 508 people have been killed in Chicago. In 2007, 443 people were murdered.

That was a significant drop since 2003, when 601 people were killed.

On Wednesday, Weis said, while he's not satisfied with the 2008 numbers, the murders must be put in a larger context.

"We're going to be working hard in 2009 to tamp that number way down. It's still the fifth lowest year for homicides since 1965," said Weis.

Weis addressed the homicide rate at a news conference that brought in police brass and clergy members from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

Their message: As we celebrate 2009, do it safely, without gunfire.

"We do not want to wake up tomorrow morning and hear sad news, tragedy, of a 4-year-old child being shot by a stray bullet," said Roosevelt Watkins, Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Star Church.

"You cannot control where that bullet is going to go, nor the person it may harm or kill. Secondly, for adults; is this the image you want to pass on to our youth as a sign of celebration?" said Fr. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina Church.

Also on Wednesday, police officials emphasized the importance of not drinking and driving. Chicago, along with other departments and Illinois State Police will be watching.

"Within the Chicagoland area, we are going to have our full force out within the chicagoland expressway system. And we will have our special enforcement teams also out on those area expressways and we will have concentration patrols within the city limits," said Lt. Luis Gutierrez, llinois State Police.

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