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Chicago Murders Down 69 Percent: 'By No Means Victory,' Top Cop Says

By Mark Konkol | April 1, 2013 6:21am | Updated on April 1, 2013 9:09am

CHICAGO — Murders in Chicago decreased 69 percent last month compared with March 2012, according to Chicago police data.

In all, there were 16 homicides in March — 36 fewer than March 2012, when 52 people were murdered. That makes it two months in a row with a significant decrease in murders. In February, the number of murders dropped 48 percent — 14 compared with 27 homicides in 2012.

Police said the March murder numbers continue a "six-month trend of a declining murder rate." That's welcome news after a particularly bloody January when 42 people were murdered — including 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, whose slaying made national news. The 42 slayings were just two more than January 2012, but enough to keep negative national media attention focused on street violence in Chicago, where 506 people were murdered in 2012.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 69 murders — a 42 percent decrease compared with the 119 murders during the same three-month stretch in 2012.

Nonfatal shootings also significantly decreased citywide, police sources said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy are slated to reveal more detailed violent crime statistics at an appearance in Pullman Monday morning.

McCarthy, who is approaching two years on the job, has rolled out a number of anti-violence initiatives that target gang hot spots and “hot people," violent gang members and their known associates. He’s also reorganized police districts, appointed new commanders and put an emphasis on catching fugitives, busting open drug markets and cracking down on quality-of-life violations.

Last week, McCarthy unveiled “Operation Impact,” which deploys rookie cops on foot patrol on the night shift in violent gang turf that accounts for 20 percent of violent crime citywide.

In a recent interview, McCarthy said the downward trend in murders shows his department is making “good progress” in battling Chicago’s shooting epidemic.

“Looking back it’s been a fast and furiously changing [police] department,” McCarthy said. “The strategies we’re using now are not the same ones we used in 2011 and 2012. And that’s why we’re having success.”

Since October 2012, the murder rate has dropped 28 percent, according to police.

"These numbers are progress, but they are by no means victory,” McCarthy said. "This progress is a result of the hard work of the dedicated men and women who work tirelessly to protect our streets [and] our partners in the community — ministers, teachers, principals, parents and citizens. We will continue to build on larger crime-reduction strategy to bring the same sense of safety to every corner of Chicago.”