Police: 650 murdered in Chicago in 2017, down 15 percent from previous year

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police said murders across the city decreased more than 15 percent in 2017, but the city has already seen its first murder of 2018.

The first homicide of this year involved a victim in a car, which crashed into a fence. Police said it happened around 2:20 a.m. in the 3900-block of West Cornelia Avenue. A 51-year-old man was heading southbound on Pulaski in the Avondale neighborhood when his Toyota Camry hit a fence.

He was found with a gunshot wound to the back. Police did not have anyone in custody Monday morning.

Overall in 2017, Chicago police said they saw a sharp drop in violence.

In Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, residents said they've seen that drop firsthand.

Darryl Smith has fallen asleep to the sound of police scanners and woken up to that dreaded phone call one too many times.

"When you get those calls it's never the same. Whether it's a 5-year-old boy or a 25-year-old man, it's all the same," said Smith, a community organizer in Englewood. "Then they zip them up in a bag and it's over."

Smith, a lifelong Englewood resident, knows the pain well. He's lost four loved ones to gun violence over the past five years.

But this year Smith said things took a turn.

Rashana Baldwin noticed it, too.

"You saw a big change in 2017 in Englewood. You saw everyone really out there boots on the ground," said Baldwin, an Englewood community organizer.

According to CPD statistics, the Englewood and Harrison neighborhoods had the most significant drops in gun violence this year, leading a major city-wide reduction in 2017 with more than 700 fewer shootings and more than 100 fewer murders.

"We all know that we came off a horrible 2016 and we made a commitment not to repeat that in 2017," said Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

Just hours after Johnson spoke Monday morning, his officers were on the scene of the city's first homicide in 2018.

But Englewood residents said the latest numbers make them hopeful. The neighborhood's shootings were down 43 percent.

Chicago police thank the district's new "hyper local" intelligence center, but residents said that was just one important part.

"The technology is great but without a collaboration with the clergy men the businessmen community based organizations residents and the police, it can't be done," said Smith.

Englewood is in the 7th District, which was one of 20 districts that saw a reduction in shootings. Supt. Johnson said that it's a step in the right direction.

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Chicago police said murders across the city decreased more than 15 percent in 2017, but the city has already seen its first murder of 2018.

Chicago police said the city saw a 15.69 percent drop in murders in 2017. A total of 650 people were murdered in 2017, down from 771 in 2016, according to statistics released by police Monday.

The city also saw a 21.55 percent drop in the number of shootings in 2017, going from 3550 shootings in 2016 to 2785 shootings in 2017. The number of people shot dropped from 4,349 in 2016 to 3,457 in 2017, police said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said there's room for encouragement.

"While we made significant progress this year, we certainly aren't celebrating. There is a still a lot of work ahead of us, but we are headed in the right direction," Johnson said.

In 2017 Chicago police added more sworn personnel and it invested in new technology to drive what CPD calls its smart policing strategy. CPD also increased partnerships with the community.

But of course, the numbers are still hard to swallow and the department is not celebrating a victory.
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