Chicago Crime Reached “Historic Low” in 2014: Police

Police say murders were down in 2014, but shootings were up

Chicago closed 2014 with what police said were “historic lows” in crime and murder numbers.

The year saw a drop of 3 percent in murders, marking the lowest murder rate since 1965, when there were 397, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Overall crime was down 15 percent at the end of the year, the lowest it has been since 1972, officials said.

McCarthy didn't release specific numbers, but the Chicago Police Department's website shows there were 392 murders in 2014 as of Dec. 21. The website indicates 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, the Associated Press reports. So while the number of murders is roughly the same, the per capita murder rate is higher today.

While the report indicates murders were at a historic low, officials said shootings were up for the area. Police said shootings rose 13 percent from 2013 and 15 percent from 2012.

McCarthy touted the numbers as a success in Chicago, but noted there’s more work to be done.

“While we continue to make progress in reducing overall crime and have had the fewest murders since 1965, we know there’s much more work to be done,” McCarthy said in a statement. “We will continue to do our part by building on our community policing efforts, fostering stronger relationships with the residents we serve, putting more officers in high crime areas, and proactively intervening in gang conflicts. But we remain challenged by the flow of illegal guns into our communities and until we have better laws to help keep illegal guns off our streets we will face an uphill battle.”

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 earlier this month about claims police sometimes look for ways to make statistics appear more favorable, McCarthy responded, "Nonsense."

The report comes as tensions between communities and police are high following grand jury decisions in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the ambush shooting of two NYPD officers.

“While the data shows Chicago has seen the fewest murders and lowest crime rate in decades, the ultimate measure of our success is how our residents feel in their communities,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “We will continue building on our comprehensive policing and prevention efforts, and expanding on our partnership with community leaders, faith leaders, and residents to ensure everyone in every neighborhood in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety. Until we have achieved that important goal, our work together will not be complete.”

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