Chicago Shootings, Homicides DROP Nearly 50% In August As City Changes Policing Strategy, Welcomes Feds

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CHICAGO, IL - MAY 27: Crime scene tape is stretched around the front of a home where a man was shot on May 28, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago police have added more than 1,000 officers to the streets over the Memorial Day weekend, hoping to put a dent in crime, during what is typically one of the more violent weekends of the year. In 2016, 6 people were killed and another 65 were wounded by gun violence over the Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago saw a marked decrease in the number of shootings and homicides in August, according to numbers released by the Chicago Police Department Tuesday, marking the first month since the end of the coronavirus-related lockdown where gun violence has actually ticked down.

A release, issued to local media Tuesday morning, noted that “the Chicago Police Department saw a significant reduction in overall crime compared to the summer months before, including decreases in murders and shootings in some of Chicago’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.”

“Following increased flexibility and focus in staffing from two new citywide teams and thanks to ongoing partnerships with street outreach organizations, community-based organizations and community leaders, the month of August saw a 45% decrease in murders compared to the previous month, and a 35% decrease compared to the month of June,” the CPD said in the report.

“In fact,” it continued, “this month saw the lowest number of murders since April. Additionally, the number of shooting victims has dropped by 22% this month compared to July, and shooting incidents have declined by 15% compared to the previous month.”

The numbers, though, are still staggering, especially in comparison to 2019. According to Chicago’s ABC affiliate, “503 people were shot, 63 fatally in August 2020 compared to 268 shot, 49 fatally in August of 2019.”

Overall, murders are actually up 50% compared to last year. Overall crime numbers, though, the police department reports, are down and continue to trend downward. Even as the city has seen a spike in gun violence, its seen fewer other crimes — and that number stays low even when Chicago’s recent spate of looting is taken into consideration.

The city has seen “double-digit reductions in criminal complaints for theft and criminal sexual assault. Additionally, burglary, robbery, theft, and overall crime figures in Chicago remain at 20-year lows, looking at year-to-date figures,” ABC 7 Chicago reports.

Chicago’s police superintendent David Brown was quick to credit the police department for the declining figures, noting that CPD has changed its policing strategy significantly in recent weeks, following the deaths of several young children caught up in the crossfire between rival gangs battling on the city’s south and west sides.

“This has been an unprecedented year in policing, as coronavirus, civil unrest and violence have all converged in Chicago and in cities throughout the country,” Brown said at a press conference Tuesday. “Thanks to not only the launch of our two citywide teams but also our ongoing partnerships with street outreach and community-based organizations, we have seen a substantial decrease in violent crime in August compared to the previous summer months.”

Although Brown did not mention it, Operation Legend — a Trump administration program designed to pair federal officials from several key agencies, including the FBI, ATF, and DEA, with local investigators to help anticipate and quell violent action before it begins and to better contain organized criminal enterprises — is likely to have had an effect on the city’s crime rate.

A “progress report” on Operation Legend, issued last week, shows the program made at least 61 arrests in Chicago. Most of the individuals detained are facing charges of narcotics trafficking, weapons trafficking, and illegal gun possession.

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