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Each Murder Costs $5 Million, Each Shooting $1 million, Top Cop Says

By Erica Demarest | May 13, 2013 11:53am | Updated on May 13, 2013 12:59pm
 Police Supt. Garry McCarthy talks gun control at a news conference Monday. (May 13, 2013)
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy talks gun control at a news conference Monday. (May 13, 2013)
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

BRIDGEPORT — Amid reports that the Chicago Police Department already has spent two-thirds of its 2013 overtime budget, Supt. Garry McCarthy said it’s cheaper to pay for policing than for crime.

“Every single gunshot in this city costs $1 million; every single murder costs $5 million,” McCarthy said, apparently referencing a 2010 study from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

The study claims the societal cost of one gun homicide averages $5 million once factors like medical care, incarceration and police expenses are tallied.

“So do the math,” McCarthy said Monday at a news conference in the Deering District police station, 3120 S. Halsted St. “If over the last eight months, we’ve stopped 90 murders from occurring, are we being penny-wise and dollar foolish if we worry about that [the overtime budget]?”

McCarthy said Mayor Rahm Emanuel “has made it very, very clear that he will find money to ensure that we provide public safety for citizens of Chicago.”

In coming up with the societal cost of fatalities, the researchers figured in $1.6 million in lost work, $29,000 in medical care, $397,000 in prosecution and police investigations, $9,000 in employer losses and $3 million in pain, suffering and lost quality of life for the people who were shot and their families.

In all, gunshot wounds and deaths cost Americans at least $12 billion annually, said the study's author, Ted Miller.

"Back in 1994, the costs of drunk driving were substantially higher, but it has reversed," Miller told USA Today.

Citywide crime rates are expected to rise over the summer, he said.

“Crime is a bell curve,” McCarthy explained. He said across the U.S., crime rates start out low in January, increase during hotter months and dip by the end of the year.

“Obviously, there’s more crime in the summertime,” McCarthy said. “Kids aren’t in school. There’s more people on the street.”

The superintendent said police would continue to exercise strategies such as targeting "hot spots" with overtime cops, engaging in community policing and reaching out to local organizations. Officers will start patrolling later in the day, since summer crime typically occurs in the afternoon or overnight.

McCarthy said stricter gun laws — including tougher sentencing and mandatory three-year minimums for gun crimes — could help curb crime. In 2013, he said, Chicago police have taken more than 2,500 guns off the streets. That's an average of 130 per week.

“This isn’t brain surgery, folks," he said. "The fact is: There are way too many guns coming into this city, and there’s very little punishment on the back end.”