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Number Of Chicago Homicides Plummets In February

(Credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

(Credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s relatively good news in Chicago’s battle against crime: The month of February saw 14 murders, a significant drop compared to 43 killings in January.

Also, the 14 homicides last month represent half the number reported by Chicago Police in February 2012. Of those killed, 11 were shot and three stabbed.

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy credits a variety of strategies with helping, including targeting gangs and shifting desk officers onto the streets.

“I think it makes a difference – everything we do,” McCarthy tells CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker.

The dip comes at a time of increasing pressure on McCarthy and his boss, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to end the bloodbath on Chicago streets.

“It’s worthy of consideration; we should note it,” Art Lurigio, a criminologist at Loyola University, said of the February numbers. “But at the same time, it’s really the year we should be paying attention to because statistics fluctuate for a variety of reasons.”

Lurigio said those reasons may well include stepped-up police efforts to tackle homicides, but the drop in murders last month might also have to do with the national spotlight aimed at Chicago, following the slaying of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in January less than a mile from President Barack Obama’s Kenwood mansion.

It’s possible Obama’s presence and the relatively quick arrest and filing of charges in that case gave some would-be killers pause, Lurigio said.

“When was the last time a president of the United States came into a city to talk about the murder rate?” Lurigio said. “When was the last time the death of a young person was given so much media attention?”

Hadiya’s murder ended the city’s most deadly January in a decade — with 43 homicides — following a 16 percent jump in homicides in 2012.

Chicago Police declined to comment about February’s statistics.

In recent days, McCarthy has said he is continually refining crime strategies, which has included shifting 200 police officers from desk jobs to street duty.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire. (Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)