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Chicago’s Violent Streak Finally Slowing? August Sees Big Dip In Shootings

By Kelly Bauer | September 1, 2017 8:31am | Updated on September 2, 2017 8:44am
 Shootings fell sharply this August compared to the same month last year, but 2017 remains unusually violent for Chicago.
Shootings fell sharply this August compared to the same month last year, but 2017 remains unusually violent for Chicago.
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DOWNTOWN — This August saw a sharp drop in shootings, helping slow the pace of violence in what has been a bloody year for Chicago.

There were 249 shootings that killed 45 people and wounded 308 others this August, according to DNAinfo analysis. Last year, August saw 369 shootings that killed 79 people and wounded 384 others. The decrease translates to a 32 percent drop in shootings.

"It's not victory," said Chicago Police spokesman Frank Giancamilli. "It's just heading in the right direction."

It's a significant mark in a year that has proven particularly violent. Though shootings have been down compared to last year, 2017 had even more murders than in 2016 — one of the bloodiest years in decades for Chicago — until this August. Now, murders have fallen below what the city experienced last year.

At least 52 people were killed this month, a 42 percent drop from the 90 people killed last August. Throughout all of 2017, there have been at least 466 people killed in Chicago — another decrease from last year, when 485 people had been killed through the end of August.

Despite the drop, 2017 remains one of the more violent years in recent memory for Chicago. There have been 1958 shootings that left 419 people dead and 2470 wounded as of Thursday night.

Giancamilli said the department's increased use of technology and having more officers on the streets contributed to August's drop in violence. This week, 182 officers graduated and were added to the force. The department is continuing to hire and train officers to rebuild the force.

And the department's Strategic Decision Support Centers — which combine technology and analysis to help officers patrol and respond to crime — are now installed in the 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th and 15th districts, covering parts of the city that had experienced some of the worst violence in recent years. Some of the technology has been implemented in the 10th district, too.

"Between the technology in our most violent districts, between the additional officers that are hitting the streets, we're starting to see, basically, the fruits of our strategy," Giancamilli said. "We can never predict, but we hope" the drop continues.

Aside from the support centers, districts have received more phones for officers and ShotSpotter technology, which can listen for gunshots on streets so officers can respond more quickly. Several districts have also expanded their pod cameras, which can rotate automatically to record video of a spot where ShotSpotter detects gunfire.

Police have also making more gun arrests and taking more illegal guns off the street, Giancamilli said. Chicago Police have seized more than 6,100 guns so far this year.

"It's everything coming together," Giancamilli said. "It's efforts of the police officers, it's our technology, it's some of the reforms we've put into place, it's the hiring strategy all coming together to just start to show us those gains that we had been hoping to see."

Here's a look at some of August's violence:

• On Aug. 9, D'Amato's bakery worker Aristeo Soriano was shot dead in West Town. The next day, small business owner Jesus De La O was gunned down during a carjacking about one mile from Soriano's slaying. Just hours later and two blocks from De La O's killing, a third person was shot but survived.

• On Aug. 15, a 14-year-old boy was watching movies with his family in their West Humboldt Park home when a bullet went through the house and hit the teen.

• On Aug. 20, seven people were shot outside a banquet center in West Pullman. Kolby Craig, 33, was killed.

• On Aug. 26, 16-year-old Theotis Luckett was shot to death in Humboldt Park. The new father was described as "full of life" and "delightful."

2017 Violence So Far:

• This January Had As Many Shootings, Murders As Violent January 2016

• Shootings, Murders Rise In Chicago In February

• Shootings, Murders See Major Drop For 1st Time In More Than A Year

• Shootings Down To Date, But April Saw Uptick In Murders

• May Sees Chicago Shootings Fall — But 2017 Still More Violent Than Usual

• Even As Shootings Fall, Murders Remain High: 335 People Killed In 2017

• Chicago On Pace To Have Even More Murders Than In 2016 After Bloody July