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Murders Down 35 Percent in Near West Police District

By Alisa Hauser | February 6, 2014 9:32am
 Near West Police Cmdr. Melissa Staples told a group of residents that as a resident of the district, she "has the same concerns you do."
Near West Police Cmdr. Melissa Staples told a group of residents that as a resident of the district, she "has the same concerns you do."
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — The city's largest police district announced a drop in crime in 2013 compared to the year before, as well as a recent downturn, which could be linked, in part, to the frigid weather.

During a community policing meeting Tuesday at St. Helen's School, 2347 W. Augusta Blvd., Sgt. Juan Clas reported a 20 percent drop in violent crime in the Near West District, created last year by consolidating the 12th and 13th districts.

Police said murders are down 35 percent and shooting incidents have declined by 21 percent in the Near West District, which is led by Cmdr. Melissa Staples and is headquartered at 1412 S. Blue Island Ave., on the border of the Little Italy and Pilsen neighborhoods.

The 20 percent drop included crimes such as murder, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery, burglary, felony theft and motor vehicle theft, Clas said.

There were 11 murders in the Near West District in 2013, compared with 17 in 2012.

There were 871 motor vehicle thefts in 2013, compared with 1,178 in 2012.

There were 53 criminal sexual assaults in the Near West District in 2013, nine fewer than the previous year.

The news was good on a more local level as well, Clas said. Over a recent eight-week period for Beat 1212 — Division Street to the north, Chicago Avenue to the south, Wood Street to the east and Campbell Avenue to the west — theft, burglary and criminal damage to property have all been on the decline.

Why the improving numbers?

Clas said it is a combination of the cold weather and more officers patrolling the streets and making more arrests.

"Cold weather and officers being more aggressive and lucky," Clas said. "If they are out there more, there's less opportunity for bad guys."

There were 38 instances of theft from Dec. 3 to Feb. 3, compared with 49 thefts in the prior period, from Oct. 2 to Dec. 2. 

There were 19 instances of burglary in the current period, compared with 36 in the prior eight-week period.

Clas said 21 arrests were made on Beat 1212 during the recent eight-week period.

The Near West District spans eight communities and employs more than 500 officers. 

For a full breakdown of area statistics, click here.

Beat 1212 meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every even-numbered month in the basement of St. Helen's School at 2347 W. Augusta Blvd. For more information, email CAPS012@chicagopolice.org.