BRONZEVILLE — A police media event Thursday saw 2013 crime statistics praised, then all but thrown out the window.
The Police Department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened their regular meeting of district commanders — known as CompStat — to the media Thursday at police headquarters. It was meant to illustrate the CompStat system, short for computer statistics or comparative statistics, created in the mid-'90s in New York City and designed to attack crime by pinpointing where it exists and thrives statistically. Police Supt. Garry McCarthy called the media session "CompStat Light."
Part of the meeting concerned the department not "resting on its laurels" after the murder count was cut 18 percent last year.
"I know nobody here is spiking the ball. That's not allowed. Twenty-thirteen was good; 2014 has to be better," Emanuel told officers at the end of the presentation.
He told officers "nobody's allowed to rest on their laurels," and said 2014 "is about making sure that this is permanent, not a one-year fluke."
At one point, McCarthy grilled Cmdr. Leo Schmitz over performance in his Englewood District.
McCarthy said that murders had actually ticked up in Englewood in 2013, to 42 from 39 the previous year. Yet he called that an "anomaly" and pointed to how it was still down 28 percent from the 58 murders registered in the district in 2011.
"Leo, you've had a couple real good years," McCarthy said. "Good year in 2013. Set the tone early in 2014."
The media was asked not to share specific details, but Schmitz spoke of chasing a certain gang out of an Englewood community, allowing residents to create a vegetable garden, an incident Emanuel seized upon.
"They're not being terrorized any more by gangs," Emanuel said. "That is the measure of success."
He later added, "There's a quality-of-life difference. People have a sense of safety."
In fact, Emanuel said he agreed with Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) and her remarks Wednesday on crime statistics and her Roseland community, although he didn't share her language: "That means crap to me when I know that someone else has been shot."
"Those statistics are cold comfort. I agree with that," Emanuel said. "They're a measure, but they're cold comfort."
Emanuel added that he also agreed with Austin that "the gang leadership has to be stopped and taken off of the streets," and he pointed again to the gains in the Englewood District.
"Those are statistics," Emanuel said. "The measure is, can you have a community garden, do you feel safe enough?"
Earlier, McCarthy pointed to the counterintuitive nature of statistics, and how fewer arrests does not necessarily mean police aren't doing their duty.
"Less arrests, less crime," he said. "Everybody thinks the way we reduce crime is by filling up the jails. It's not. It's arresting the right people."