CHICAGO — Chicago is reporting a significant drop in homicides for the third straight year, news that city leaders are embracing after the Windy City was singled out for gun violence during a particularly deadly 2016.
The nation’s third-most populous city has recorded 490 murders in 2019 as of Tuesday morning, Chicago police say — about 13% lower than 2018’s total of 564.
That also would be a roughly 35% drop from 2016, when Chicago reported its highest number of homicides in two decades: 756.
Shootings also are down. The police department’s preliminary tally of shootings for the year — 2,139 — is about 9.6% lower than 2018’s count of 2,367.
Chicago police are expected to announce another preliminary murder and shooting count on Tuesday night, the final hours of 2019. The numbers may change even after that — final counts will be released after an FBI audit is completed in the next few weeks.
Still, city leaders have expressed hope that efforts undertaken since 2016 — hiring more police officers, emphasizing community policing and making investments in social services and schools — are helping to lessen violent crime
They also credit what they call data-driven policing.
The department in recent years has created support centers where supervisors use information from many sources and technologies — including security cameras and gunshot detection systems — to learn where crimes are happening and where they are likely to occur.
“I think that all of those things working together — being on the ground, supporting vulnerable victims, supporting vulnerable communities — led to the declines that we saw this year, and particularly over the course of the summer,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told CNN’s “New Day” on Monday.
The preliminary count suggests Chicago had close to the number of murders in 2019 as it did in 2015, when the tally was 478.
Chicago-area resident Keith Flowers would like the violence to drop further still. Flowers, 52, lost his son to a shooting in Chicago in August.
He said he is grateful that the rates of shootings and homicides are dropping, but there is a long way to go before he feels safe.
“You can’t let your kids out to play because you don’t know when a drive-by or a shooting is going to take place. So no, we don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe,” he told CNN.