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Police Tout Improved Crime Stats, But Residents Not Convinced

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A Chicago police car. (Photo Credit: MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chicago police car. (Photo Credit: MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Do you feel safe? If you listen to Chicago’s top cop, or look at recent inner city crime stats, maybe you should.

While summers typically turn violent, the first week of summer has proven otherwise. There have been seven murders in the past week. That’s down from 21 people killed the same time a year ago.

But CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports Police Supt. Garry McCarthy stopped well short of saying “mission accomplished.”

The superintendent is riding such a high after the NATO summit he could probably get away with saying most anything. But he also remembers proclaiming “No shootings in 24 hours” late last year, then seeing the murder rate skyrocket.

So Thursday, in announcing a series of arrests, he chose his words very carefully.

“Gang members in this case were so audacious they were actually selling narcotics right underneath one of our pod cameras, the flashing blue light cameras,” McCarthy told reporters during a news conference.

It might have surprised McCarthy, but it didn’t surprise West Side neighbors CBS 2 interviewed.

“There’s drug-selling on every block,” Valerie Newsome said.

The reality, according to resident, put McCarthy’s press conference into perspective.

“It’s a great day for the good guys in Chicago. Once in a while, we really make a difference,” the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Jack Riley said.

Unfortunately, confiscating all these guns and drugs and arresting suspects is the exception, not the rule.

The administration is now on its third different crime-cutting offensive. Yet so far this year, there have been 926 shootings. That’s 9.7 percent more than during the same period last year. In 2012, there have been 217 murders, up 36 percent.

“While I can’t go back and change what happened in the first quarter, what we can do is move forward and fix it,” McCarthy said. “And in the second quarter so far, we’ve got a double-digit reduction in our shooting incidents.”

In the past 28 days, there have been 208 shootings, which is down 9.5 percent; and 44 murders, down 10 percent. The past 7 days are even better: 52 shootings, down 19.5 percent; seven murders, down 66 percent.

On the streets, though, people look at crime fighting strategies with more than a little skepticism.

“Sometimes they will arrest them and the guys will get out, who knows when, and they’ll be back in the same spot because they have no other place to go,” David Johnson says.

No jobs, no skills, no hope. Though social service workers are now being sent in to follow police once they take back those street corners, it’s too early to tell whether they’re having an impact.

Only that May was a little less violent. And that maybe the trend will continue.

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