Chicago has seen the deadliest start to the year in nearly two decades, according to city data.
Chicago police released the city’s most recent crime statistics Tuesday, revealing the city reported 43 murders, 165 shootings and 187 shooting victims last month alone.
So far this year, there have been 406 shootings and 95 murders, the department said. That’s compared to 180 shootings and 48 murders in the first two months of last year.
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"The level of violence is unacceptable and CPD continues to aggressively target those responsible, especially in neighborhoods where gang activity is most active," the department said in a statement.
The department has already reported that the number of murders and crime so far this year has far surpassed numbers from the last four years. But the Chicago Tribune reports that murders for the first two months of the year have matched numbers recorded in 1999.
According to the publication, there hasn’t been a deadlier start to the year since 1997, which saw 101 homicides in its first two months and 761 murders for the year.
The police department said the city is facing a “historic challenge with guns.”
"While we have much more work to do, however the Chicago Police Department will not rest until every resident in every neighborhood enjoys the same sense of safety,” Interim Chicago Police Superintendent John Escalante said in a statement. “We will continue to work tirelessly on ways to stop violence, and restore accountability and trust in communities throughout the city.”
Just last weekend, at least two people were killed and 24 others were wounded in shootings across the city.
The latest crime statistics comes nearly three months after the city released footage of a Chicago officer fatally shooting a black teen 16 times in 2014. Since that day, the officer involved in the shooting has been charged with murder, the city's former police superintendent Garry McCarthy has been fired and the Department of Justice has launched a civil rights probe into the police force.
In an interview with NBC 5 Investigates Tuesday, Escalante addressed the concerning crime numbers and what he believes is a hesitation among officers in the wake of the federal investigation.
He noted that despite the increase in crime, gun arrests are up by 33 percent over the last 28 days and murder arrests were up by 5 percent.
"I believe [officers] are starting to make the effort again,'' he said, "to try to do what they can to bring this violence down.''