CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police said Thursday that shootings and murders are down significantly this year, compared to last year, and overall crime also has dropped.
According to the Police Department, the city has seen a 25 percent drop in murders for the first seven months of 2013, compared to the same time period last year, which ended with 506 murders for the entire year.
The drop translates to 79 fewer murders so far this year, compared to the same time period last year, police said.
Police said the number of murders through July is the lowest for any year since 1965.
Shootings were down 23 percent through July, police said, and overall crime dropped 15 percent compared to the same time period last year.
“We’re pleased. We won’t be satisfied until we get a long way down the road. This is progress, this is what we’ve been saying. It’s progress, it’s not success,” Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said on the CBS 2 Morning News.
McCarthy said there have been approximately 400 fewer shooting victims, and 6,500 fewer victims of overall crime so far this year, compared to last year.
Over the past 10 months, the city has seen about 100 fewer murders than the same 10-month time frame a year prior, according to McCarthy.
“So, it’s progress. We have a long way to go. We need some help, as far as gun laws go,” he said. “We’re moving, and we’re pushing.”
The dip in crime comes as the city prepares to take the national spotlight when it hosts Lollapalooza this weekend.
The superintendent said the department has a security plan in place for the music festival, which was plagued by about 100 ecstasy overdoses last year. Local health officials said earlier this month they are worried about another increase in drug overdoses over the next few weeks.
“We have a security plan that we’ve had in place for years now. We tweak it every year, depending on the conditions that exist. There have been a number of overdoses recently in the suburbs, and on the West Side, and actually one on the South Side where somebody spiked the punch, if you will, at an event, and a whole bunch of kids got sick from it,” McCarthy said.
He likely was referring to an incident in Bridgeport last week, when five young adults were hospitalized after a bad reaction to an unidentified psychedelic drug.
“We believe that it was really one bad batch of narcotics,” McCarthy said.
Both uniformed and undercover officers will be on duty at Lollapalooza to watch for illegal drug use.
“Honestly, this is something that we do all the time. Every weekend there’s something going on in this city, and we’re ready to police it,” he said.
McCarthy also sought to reassure parents of Chicago Public Schools students that it has been preparing for months to keep kids safe when they start attending new schools in the fall, after the city closed dozens of elementary schools this summer.
Many parents have expressed concerns that their kids will have to cross gang lines to get to their new schools.
“We’ve identified the school closings, and where the kids have to go, and one thing that has not been pushed out is that those kids have been crossing gang lines, even going to their own schools previously,” he said.
CPS students return to school on Aug. 26.