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Very Real

Is Chicago The Hotbed Of Crime Trump Claims It To Be?

The city is enjoying a 13-month streak of decreased gun violence. 

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Is Trump wrong about Chicago?

"If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!" he tweeted in January of last year —four days after his inauguration.

"I ask, 'What's going on in Chicago, right? What is going on?' There's no excuse for it. There's no excuse for it. I'm sure you're asking the same question, 'What's going on in Chicago?'" he said in March.

"Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help. 1714 shootings in Chicago this year!" Trump wrote in June. That same month, he made good on his comments, sending 20 agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to Chicago.

The President has called out Chicago time and time again. Chicago’s homicide rate per 100,000 residents is already much lower than other cities including leader New Orleans and — wait for it — the President’s current home, Washington D.C.

Now we know that crime in Chicago has actually gone down consistently over the past year. However, violence in parts of the South Side region — already troubled by violence — appears to have increased since 2016, according to data compiled by the Chicago Tribune in December 2017.

The city on average is currently enjoying a streak of declining gun violence, with March marking the 13th consecutive month, CNN reports. According to new stats released by the Chicago Police Department, shootings have decreased by 17% and murders have dropped 25% in comparison to March of last year. Since the beginning of the year, shootings are down 25% while murders have gone down by 22%. Year-to-date, the CPD has also recovered 1,900 guns — a 3% jump from last year.

Things are looking up for the city in general. While 2016, with 771 murders, marked Chicago’s deadliest year in nearly 20 years, 2017 saw a 15% decline in murders from the previous year, with a recorded 650 murders. 

[Photo c/o Chicago Police Department, via Chicago Tonight]

"Our work is far from over. We will continue our hiring plan and identify ways we can integrate technology into the crime fight,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson in a press conference on Monday.

Such tech includes Strategic Decision Support Centers, which were expanded into six districts last year, Chicago Tonight reports. At SDSCs, officers have access to a variety of crime-fighting tech, like the ShotSpotter, which has the ability to use sound to pinpoint the location of a shot fired within 25 yards.

Despite progress, local leaders are staying focused on the work that’s left to be done.

“While I’m very encouraged by our progress and the work of our officers, my message here today is we still have a lot more work to do,” Johnson said. “We’ll get there with the help of our community’s assistance, as well as business owners and clergy.”

Max Kapustin, research director at the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs, echoed those sentiments, CNN says.

"There are still way, way, way too many people being shot and being killed in the city," he said. "The progress is real and it's very important people realize that. It's incremental, though, and we've still got a long way to go."

[Photo: Gun control activists protest at Union Park, Chicago on March 24, 2018. Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]