2016 Ends One Of Chicago’s Bloodiest Years With 762 Homicides

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CHICAGO (CBSMiami/AP) — One of the most violent years in Chicago history ended Sunday with a sobering tally: 762 homicides, the most in two decades and more than Los Angeles and New York combined.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images).

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images).

The nation’s third largest city also saw 1,100 more shooting incidents than it did in 2015, according to statistics released by the Chicago Police Department. The numbers underline a story of bloodshed that has put Chicago at the center of a national dialogue about gun violence.

The data released Sunday are staggering, even for those who followed the steady news accounts of weekends ending with dozens of shootings and monthly death tolls that hadn’t been seen in years. The increase in homicides compared to 2015, when 485 were reported, is the largest spike in 60 years.

Police and city officials have lamented the flood of illegal guns into the city, and the crime statistics appeared to support their claims: Police recovered 8,300 illegal guns in 2016, a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

The bulk of the deaths and shooting incidents, which jumped from 2,426 in 2015 to 3,550 last year, occurred in only five neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides, all poor and predominantly black areas where gangs are most active. Police said the shootings in those areas generally wasn’t random, with more than 80 percent of the victims having previously been identified by police as more susceptible because of their gang ties or past arrests.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was expected to discuss the newly released statistics Sunday afternoon.

The city has scrambled to address the violence. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced last year that 1,000 officers would be added to the police department. At the same time, police officials have been trying to figure out why homicides and shootings — which began climbing the year before — suddenly surged.

Johnson has said several factors contributed to the increased violence. He noted 2016 was the first full year since the city was forced in November 2015 to release video of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was black and shot 16 times by a white police officer. The video cost former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy his job, sparked major protests around the city, and led to federal and state investigations of the department.

Nearly 800 people have been murdered in the city this year and more than 4000 shot as the city copes with its most violent year in two decades. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Nearly 800 people have been murdered in the city this year and more than 4000 shot as the city copes with its most violent year in two decades. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

It also left Johnson with the task of trying to restore public trust in what appeared to be a weakened police force, a perception that was only buttressed by a dramatic drop in the number of arrests in 2016.

While the police department has cited several factors for the declining numbers, including a concerted effort not to make minor drug arrests and focus on gun violence, Johnson acknowledged in a recent interview with The Associated Press that officers have become more cautious — in part out of fear of becoming the next “viral video.”

That, he said, has “emboldened” criminals.

“Criminals watch TV, pay attention to the media,” he said. “They see an opportunity to commit nefarious activity.”

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. The National Socialists at the DNC have used the traditional “WORK MAKES ONE FREE” (not) signs on the near west and south sides.

    How will Mayor Rahm Emanuel beat this year totals without importing Obama’s Syrian immigrants. Even though Chicago beat its 2 closest rivals combined, Chicago might get tougher competition next year if New York or LA tie the hands of their police also. Mayor Rahm Emanuel must keep on his toes lest they find ways to catch up.

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