The number of Chicago murders “skyrocketed” to 796 in 2020, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, and Cook County clocked the highest number of gun-related deaths in history, with a startling 875 homicides.
“After three consecutive years of declining violence, Chicago’s murder tally soared in 2020 as city leaders — including a new Chicago police superintendent — were forced to confront widespread civil unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Sun-Times noted Sunday, announcing the 2020 numbers.
“As of Dec. 31, the city recorded 774 murders in 2020, an increase of more than 50% from the 506 murders in 2019, the outlet continued, citing in-house statistics. “The uptick was felt across the city, as 20 of the CPD’s 22 police districts recorded more murders in 2020 than the year before.”
In 2020, there were 769 murders in the city of Chicago. In 2019, there were 495.
The number is nearly higher than the total in 2016 — one of the deadliest years in Chicago history, and one which saw a near city-wide gang war that left dozens dead each weekend.
Chicago, like most major cities, saw an uptick in violence in early summer, following coronavirus-related lockdowns that forced people indoors for weeks at a time, cutting them off from society and often sending them into economic peril. With police under increased scrutiny following George Floyd’s death while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement often scaled back efforts, leaving streets and communities more exposed.
Chicago set weekly records for gun violence, the Sun-Times notes, but the Chicago Police Department also cleared nearly 46% of cases, solving 350 murder cases — “the most in a single year since 2005,” per a department spokesperson. That, the city’s top brass says, is a testament to new policing strategies, even if the raw numbers are not.
“Public safety is an all-hands-on-deck effort that requires not only the police, but street outreach workers, faith leaders, the courts, community organizations, and residents all working together,” Chicago’s police superintendent, David Brown, said Thursday after the department released its official 2020 numbers. “The best way to reduce crime and violence is to prevent it from happening in the first place by building bridges and trust in the community.”
Cook County, which is home to Chicago as well as most of its surrounding suburbs, suffered from a record plague of gun violence, according to the city’s ABC affiliate, chalking up 875 gun-related homicides in 2020 — almost 50 more than the previous record set in 1994. Children were also far more likely to be victims of gun violence in 2020 than in years previous.
“That is by far the highest total of gun-related homicides we have ever had. The only time we came anywhere near that was in 1994 when we had 838 homicides due to gun violence,” a spokeswoman for the city’s Medical Examiner’s office told ABC 7 Chicago. “I see so many on TV and I’ve watched so many innocent children — kids get killed and I never would have dreamed a day in my life that I would feel the pain that they feel.”
Unfortunately for the city, 2021 is not starting out much better. Despite inclement weather and sub-freezing temperatures, the Sun-Times reports that 23 people have been shot in Chicago so far this weekend and 4 have been killed.