Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Top Cop: Chicago Fighting Perception as Murder Capital

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    NEWSLETTERS

    After a violent Labor Day weekend in Chicago, police Supt. Garry McCarthy notes murders, shootings and overall crime are down year-over-year. (Published Tuesday, Sep 3, 2013)

    Despite a violent holiday weekend, Chicago's police superintendent said the city marked its lowest murder rate since 1965 and has made progress since notching 500 murders in 2012.

    "Everybody said it's the third quarter during the summer that's really going to measure how we're doing," Supt. Garry McCarthy said, "and in June we were down in shootings and murders, July the same thing, and in August the same thing." 

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    Seven people were killed over the long weekend and about a dozen injured, but police said Chicago shootings are down 22 percent year over year, and murders are down 23 percent.

    McCarthy said that juxtaposition makes it hard to reset Chicago's image as murder capital and "we're struggling with perception."

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    "The perception issue is something that is real hard to get across when we're having some progress," McCarthy said.

    There were 47 fewer shootings last month than in August of 2012 and six fewer murders, Police News Affairs spokesman Adam Collins said. The city also saw a 23 percent dip in murders and a 15 percent decrease in overall crime so far this year.

    McCarthy pointed out the police department isn't declaring victory or success, but noted there has been progress.

    Last year's Labor Day weekend saw 24 people injured and two killed in shootings across the city. Mayor Rahm Emanuel went on "Meet the Press" that weekend to insist Chicago is not in a crisis.

    "We're making efforts I think to reduce the gang conflict, because it's gang-on-gang issues," Emanuel said. "It doesn't affect the whole city, but anywhere it happens we're going to be dealing with it."

    McCarthy admits perception can't change overnight after the city's long history of violence.

    "If we're looking to really fix what's happening in the city of Chicago, it's got to come with support from other components of the criminal justice system and the community and the media, everybody working on the same page."