By Mason Johnson
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, Chicago had 414 homicides in 2013, making the city’s homicide rate 15.22 — much lower than the 500 murders and 18.46 homicide rate Chicago saw in 2012. The drop in homicides is nice, but is it representative of all of Chicago’s neighborhoods?
“As the federal data shows, we are making real progress in reducing crime and violence by putting additional officers in high-crime areas, partnering closely with the community and backing it all up with strong prevention measures,” said police Supt. Garry McCarthy in response to the drop in homicides. “Yet while there has been less crime and fewer murders over the past two years, there’s much more work to be done and no one will rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety.”
McCarthy and I agree on one point: there’s much more work to be done.
Using RedEye’s Homicide Tracker, I looked at the number of homicides by neighborhood to determine whether the most violent neighborhoods saw the same drop in homicides that the city saw as a whole.
Looking at the 10 neighborhoods with the most homicides, only three had fewer murders in 2013 than they did in 2012: Austin, North Lawndale and Greater Grand Crossing.
The other seven saw an increase or no change in the number of murders: South Shore, Englewood, West Englewood, West Pullman, Roseland, West Garfield Park and Auburn Gresham.
When looking at all of these neighborhoods combined, you don’t find a decrease in homicides, you find an increase.
While Chicago as a whole saw a 17.2 percent decrease in homicides from 2013 to 2012, the ten neighborhoods with the most homicides saw a 5.47% increase.
Though the individuals in these areas only represent about 15 percent of the city’s population, nearly half of the city’s homicides occurred in their neighborhoods.
Even if you consider these 10 neighborhoods as outliers — violent exceptions to the rest of the city’s 77 community areas — the numbers are still staggering. Even if you say it’s unfair to compare them to the rest of Chicago’s neighborhoods, the numbers are still distressing, showing that violence isn’t diminishing in Chicago’s most impoverished places, no matter what numbers the FBI or the Mayor’s Office prop up to prove otherwise. Even if you try to argue these neighborhoods are a fraction of the city, that doesn’t take away from the fact most of the people in these neighborhoods are decent human beings — they don’t deserve to be written off by you, me, the city or anyone else.
These numbers just confirm the old narrative that Chicago is two cities, one where families walk the streets in relative safety, and one where families are disproportionally victims of violence. As has happened before, efforts by the city have benefited one, while abandoning the other.
If it’s true that the Chicago Police Department has supplied these high-crime areas with more cops, then the only conclusion is that more cops is not the sole solution. Maybe it’s time for the Mayor’s Office to come up with some new ideas; ideas that improve the similarly disproportionate problems in education and employment that these neighborhoods suffer from.
Next week, I’ll dive deeper into the numbers. You’ll be able to find that article, along with all my other rantings about violence in Chicago, here.
Editor’s Note: Small corrections were added to the statistics that changed the order of the neighborhoods on the list. While the order changed, the ten neighborhoods in the list of community areas with the most homicides in 2013 stayed the same.
Note: I used the RedEye Homicide Tracker to identify the number of homicides by neighborhood.