Chicago homicides up 60 percent in first 3 months

April 12, 2012 4:14:48 PM PDT
Violence is on the rise in Chicago with new police statistics showing homicides increased by 60 percent in the first three months of this year.

That has Mayor Rahm Emanuel defending his crime fighting efforts.

The numbers for the first quarter of 2012 appear to have undermined one of the pillars of Emanuel's administration. But the police department will not change is strategy for safer neighborhoods.

As uniformed officers walked beats in the 16 hundred block of North Spaulding, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy re-assured neighbors of better times ahead, while saying that citywide violence has trended downward in recent weeks.

"We expect that we're going to turn this around, that we already are," McCarthy said. "This is the third week in a row that shootings are down. It's marginal reductions, but the fact is they are down."

Two days ago on Spaulding, police arrested 10 suspected drug dealers, all alleged members of the Latin King street gang.

"I watched many of these kids grow up," said Joe Paredes. "I don't know if it's partly the economy. I don't know what it is. I haven't seen anything like this in years before this, just so many young people with nothing to do but join a gang."

"They would get the money from the narcotics, buy guns illegally obviously and that would fuel the violence," McCarthy said.

Through April first of this year, Chicago Police counted 120 homicides, compared to 75 during the same period in 2011. Meanwhile, non-fatal shooting incidents were up 37 percent with 489 so far this year compared to 358 in 2011.

"I'm not happy at all with the statistics, and beyond the statistics are the human tragedies that occur and the terror in this city," Emanuel said.

The mayor noted that overall crime in Chicago is down 10 percent. He attributed the rise in homicides and shootings to gangs, but Alderman Walter Burnett disagreed.

"It's not just about gangs," Burnett said. "It's about people surviving. It's about people trying to eat. It's about people trying to pay their rent and take care of their family."

McCarthy said the department summer strategy is to arrest drug dealers on their turfs and then occupy the blocks for as long as it takes to discourage their customers

"The idea is now to prevent this block from regressing to what it was," he said. "We want to eliminate the narcotics market on this block."