CHICAGO (CBS) — The city has been faced with another bloody weekend, as at least nine people have died from gun violence and more than two dozen others have been hurt in Chicago since Friday afternoon.
However, as CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, the city’s top cop said the regular focus on body count has distorted the city’s success in reducing violent crime.
At least nine people had been killed in various shootings across the city since Friday afternoon. Another 28 had been wounded.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, while announcing a weekend drug crackdown aimed at reducing drug-related gang violence, said news reports tallying murders and shootings in Chicago could be exaggerating the city’s violence problems.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports
McCarthy pointed out, although the city’s murder rate is up about 30 percent compared to last year, the murder rate was much higher earlier in the year, proving anti-gang strategies have been working to cut down on violence.
Ivory Bryant, a deacon at New Mt. Zion Church – located at 13th Street and Kedvale Avenue, one of the corners police targeted in a recent crackdown on open-air drug sales, talked Sunday about the safety level of the surrounding North Lawndale neighborhood.
“I would say, from one to five, we’re down at about two,” Bryant said.
Police said the undercover drug buys resulted in the seizure of abour 100 guns and the arrests of about 300 people.
McCarthy said, “Ninety-nine percent of these folks are gang members. So this has a direct impact on exactly what we’re doing to try and prevent gang violence.
But police acknowledged it’s a short-term tactic, in a long term battle.
Calvin Bryant Jr., associate minister at Mt. Zion, said, “We need a long term solution for economic development, [and] moral behavior improvement in our neighborhoods, so that we can have a better city.”
However, McCarthy insisted the perception of rising crime is out of step with the reality revealed by CPD statistics.
“Over the first 3 months of the year, we had a 66 percent increase and a 40 percent increase in murders in shootings. And since that time, we’ve knocked those numbers way down to about 30 percent in the murder rate, and about 7 or 8 percent increase in the shooting rate. That’s not what’s being reported. What’s being reported is the whole number of shootings and murders every single day.”
Although the city’s murder rate is up about 30 percent, it’s still half of what it was in the early 1990s.
McCarthy said the media focus on body count – like the Vietnam War – gives the public a different impression.
“I wonder if, back in the 90s, every single shooting and every single murder was reported in this city. Somehow, I don’t think it was even possible,” he said. “Of course, that’s what’s happening today.”
McCarthy noted shootings in Chicago went down for four consecutive months through July, although in Chicago, police have been struggling with a rise in shootings.
(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report)