CHICAGO (CBS) — It was a violent start to 2017 in Chicago, with the number of shootings nearly duplicating the tally from the start of last year, which ended up being the city’s bloodiest year in nearly two decades.
Chicago police said January ended with 51 murders, one more than January 2016. About half of the city’s murders last month happened in three districts on the South Side and West Side – the Austin, Englewood, and Harrison districts.
At the White House, President Trump told reporters: “If they are not going to solve the problem .. then we are going to solve the problem.
“We are going to have to do something about Chicago. Because what is happening in Chicago should not be happening in this country.”
Last month also saw 234 shooting incidents and 299 shooting victims – compared to 242 shooting incidents and 291 victims during the same time period last year.
Despite the grim numbers in January, police have said a new plan is helping get guns off the streets. Police recovered more than 600 guns last month, an increase of more than 60 percent over January 2016. Police said gun arrests also were more than double the total from January 2016.
“We are beginning to see promising results,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a news conference on Wednesday, adding the culture surrounding gun violence will not “change overnight.”
Johnson has said police are doing their part to fight crime, and that it’s up to state lawmakers to do their part and pass legislation cracking down on repeat gun offenders.
The department said, since just three of the city’s 22 police districts account for about half of the city’s murders, more resources are being focused on those areas of Chicago.
Since there’s no telling what, if any federal assistance might be forthcoming from the Trump administration, the city is not taking any chances.
“Murders and shootings remain at levels unacceptable to me, and you have my word that we will continue to put our plans into place, and make the necessary investments in technology [and] training of our officers to make Chicago a safer city,” Johnson said.
That’s why the superintendent showcased one of his department’s two new Strategic Decision Support Centers on Wednesday.
The new facility at the Englewood District police station, and another at the Harrison District station are equipped with computers linked to ShotSpotter gunshot sensors on the streets, which can pinpoint precise locations of gunfire in almost real time.
It’s information officers can now get on their cell phones.
The centers also are connected to the city’s network of surveillance cameras, as well as license plate recognition equipment that can be accessed on smart phones, laptops, and tablet computers.
With shot spotter alerts sent to mobile phones, currently in use in the Englewood and Harrison districts, officers can pinpoint a shooting location, without the need for a call from 911 to respond. Thus, the response time to a specific location is faster, leading to more arrests, police said.