Chicago's police chief Monday touted end-of-year crime data showing the number of murders in the nation's third largest city are down so far from the previous year — though not dramatically.
Chicago could end up this year with the fewest homicides since 1965, when there were 397, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference.
McCarthy didn't release specific numbers, but the department's website indicates there were 392 murders in 2014 as of Dec. 21. There were 408 in 2013 by Dec. 21 of that year.
Chicago's population in 1965 was around 3.5 million compared with 2.7 million now. That means while the number of murders is about the same, the per capita murder rate is higher today.
And while the number of murders is down, shootings are up. As of Dec. 21, there were 2026 shootings in 2014 compared with 1807 during the same period in 2013 — a 12 percent jump.
McCarthy said the overall number of crimes in Chicago has fallen 12 percent since 2013, noting the drop came as police made 15,000 fewer arrests over a two-year span.
"We're lowering crime," he said. "We're doing it by arresting the right people, not by arresting everybody." He said that's engendered more trust in the police and more cooperation.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said changing police tactics, as well as mentoring and education programs for youth, have paid off in lower crime. Emanuel, a Democrat, is running for a second term as mayor, and crime rates are typically a campaign issue.
Some critics have questioned the credibility of some police data after Chicago Magazine and other media this year examined how the department counts and classifies homicides, suggesting some murders were improperly deemed accidents or deaths by natural causes.
Asked Monday about claims police sometimes look for ways to make statistics appear more favorable, McCarthy responded, "Nonsense."