(CBS) — Chicago police said shootings are up slightly for the first half of this year, compared to last year, but murders are down to a more than 50-year low.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the number of murders through the first six months of this year was the lowest it’s been in more than half a century.

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Through the end of June, 172 people were slain in Chicago, nine fewer than at this time last year, and the lowest number of murders for the first half of a year since 1963.

McCarthy said that continues a nearly two-year trend of dropping murder numbers, following a spike in murders in the first half of 2012, when the city saw more than 500 murders for the first time in a decade.

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“In the middle of 2012, the shootings plateaued and then started going down, and then the murder rate in the 4th quarter followed. So since the 4th quarter of 2012 – almost two years – we’ve had a very consistent reduction in the murder rate,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said overall crime in Chicago was down 15 percent through June, although the number of shootings was up slightly.

The superintendent said, even with the best police officers and strategies in the world, reducing violent crime is an uphill battle without better laws to keep guns off the streets.

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“None of this is easy. We put the systems in place. We gave our commanders the resources and hold them accountable; running the department more like a business and not the hierarchical paramilitary structure that police departments used to have,” he said.