Slate magazine’s crime correspondent, Justin Peters, argues that the strategy that has reduced Chicago’s homicide rate this year — by putting more police officers on the street — will unravel when the money that pays for their overtime runs out. He also cites Chicago’s infamous weather as a possible factor.
The fact is that you can’t pay extended overtime indefinitely. It saps the budget and it makes cops overworked and tired. Once the money runs out—and it will run out—crime in Chicago is going to rise, either in the impact zones that are no longer being flooded with cops, or in other areas where budgets have been reduced to pay for cops in the impact zones.
It’s also not clear that the impact zone strategy is what’s responsible for the decline. The drop in Chicago’s murder rate correlates to an unseasonably cold winter and spring this year. Plenty of evidence indicates that crime rates tend to rise and fall along with the temperature — last year, Chicago Magazine‘s Whet Moser offered six possible explanations for why this might be. 2012 was Chicago’s warmest year in 142 years; when the temperature rises in Chicago this year, I expect the murder rate to rise as well. Instead of chewing through the CPD’s overtime budget, maybe the city would be better off just buying everyone in the impact zones some air conditioners.
Read Justin Peters’ entire piece at Slate.
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