BRIDGEPORT — The mayor and his top cop used a new Ivy League crime study Monday to tout gains in law enforcement and renew calls for more after-school programs and gun control.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy cheered a new Yale University study saying Chicago is "on track" this year to have its lowest homicide rate since 1967 and the lowest rate of violent crime since 1972.
That study, "48 Years of Crime in Chicago," by Yale professor Andrew Papachristos, concluded: "Chicago is by no means the 'murder capital' or 'crime capital' of the [United States]." It added that Chicago's rate of violent crime was half that of Detroit, and ranked 19th in the nation for cities larger than 250,000, on par with Houston and Minneapolis.
In a news conference at the Deering Police Station in Bridgeport, McCarthy said there were 90 fewer murders year-to-date in Chicago this year compared with last year, 750 fewer shootings and 12,000 fewer victims of crime.
"No one will rest until every person in the city enjoys the same sense of safety," McCarthy added. He credited Operation Impact, concentrating officers on specific high-crime areas, and said the department's 742 new police-academy graduates this year would enable the city to trim its estimated $93 million overtime bill. "That's a one-time hit that we don't expect to repeat," McCarthy said.
"Violent crime does have an economic and a social point of origin," Emanuel allowed, but pointed to figures in the study showing that 67 of 77 city neighborhoods saw a decrease in the rate of violent crime this year, and 16 neighborhoods showed a dramatic 25 percent drop over the last two years.
"We're not gonna rest until people feel the reality of these numbers," Emanuel added.
"I agree with the mayor. I don't think Chicago is the murder capital of the world," said Ald. Willie Cochran (22nd) following the news conference. "The truth is crime is coming down. But it's coming down from a high."
Cochran granted that attitudes toward crime tended to differ in African-American communities, saying, "It is a tale of two cities, and Chicago has been a tale of two cities for hundreds of years, as has the country." He added it was largely for the African-American community to address those differences.
Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) said she was "very satisfied" with police deployment in her neighborhoods.
Emanuel and McCarthy both used the occasion to renew calls for gun control, yet Emanuel also added, "Policing is not the solution. It is part of the solution."
Emanuel emphasized the importance of after-school programs in providing youngsters across the city with productive ways to spend their time away from school, a message echoed by Family and Support Services Commissioner Evelyn Diaz.
McCarthy said the drop in violent crime was entirely accurate and not due to any difference in crime definitions, adding that the national Uniform Crime Report assured consistency in crime stats.
The study found that only Montclare on the Northwest Side and Beverly, Mount Greenwood and Washington Heights on the Southwest Side showed significant rises in crime this year, which McCarthy said was a statistical anomaly based on low crime figures in the past. The study affirmed that, stating, "Those areas that experienced increases were and continue to be some of Chicago's safest areas."