Gang-related shootings are on the decline in Chicago so far this year, thanks to a targeted strategy to reduce violence, police officials said.
Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Wednesday that there have been 188 "shooting incidents" in the city through March 14 this year and fewer than half — about 48 percent — were gang-related. During the same period last year there were 267 such incidents, 61 percent of which were connected with gangs. In 2012, there were 343 shooting incidents. About 65 percent of those were gang related.
"It's not an accident, it's not the weather — it's a trend," McCarthy said.
The department says a "shooting incident" includes a fatal and nonfatal shooting where someone is injured. Each incident can include one or more victims.
To combat crime, the department has begun doing "gang audits" on the city's 600 gang factions and their members. Police commanders review intelligence reports after each shooting and try to prevent retaliation.
To do that, they then knock on doors of people who they believe are at risk of getting involved in violent retaliation to warn them while also offering them job training and access to other social services. They are also talking to the gang members' families, hoping that family members can put pressure on members to change their ways.
"By focusing on reducing gunshots, we can reduce the murders," McCarthy said.
Officials say it's not just the number of shootings that have fallen in Chicago this year, it's the number of murders too.
Through March 13, there've been 49 homicides in the city, compared with 58 during the same period in 2013. That's a nearly 16 percent decrease. In 2012, there were 80 murders between January and March 13.