Chicago Homicides Plunge to Lowest Level Since 1965

By the end of 2013, the city had recorded 415 homicides, 88 fewer than in 2012 and 20 fewer than in 2011, police say.

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Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a press conference, Sept. 10, 2013, Chicago

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago’s Police Department said Wednesday that after leading the nation in homicides in 2012, recording more than 500, the city last year listed the lowest number of killings since 1965, and saw its overall crime rate fall to a level not seen since 1972, the Associated Press reports.

By the end of 2013, the city had recorded 415 homicides, 88 fewer than in 2012 and 20 fewer than in 2011, the AP reports.

But the year did not begin on such a good note for the city, which recorded more than 40 homicides in January, including that of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student who was gunned down a mile from President Barack Obama's South Side home.

After that, however, the rate began to ebb, and the city ended the year with a 16 percent drop in crime, including robbery, aggravated battery and criminal sexual assault, the report shows. There was also a decrease in burglary and motor vehicle theft. 

"We are making significant progress by putting additional officers in high-crime areas, using intelligence to prevent retaliatory shootings, moving officers from administrative positions back to the streets," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement.

Besides the brutal death toll on young people, Chicago has been the focus of national attention in recent years because it has recorded more homicides than larger cities like New York City and Los Angeles. That was also the case in 2013, the AP reports, with New York recording 333 homicides, the lowest number since comparable record-keeping began in 1963. And, according to the Los Angeles Times, as of Dec. 28, there were 250 homicides in L.A., compared with 298 the year before, the report shows.

Chicago’s crime reduction was due, in part, to changing police tactics, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Besides putting more officers on the street, he said, various programs for young people have played a major role in reducing violent crime, reports show. This summer, he said at a recent news conference, a record 20,000 young people were involved in the city's jobs program.

"Not one of those kids was affected by gun violence this summer, and I don't believe for a minute that if they didn't have jobs they would be safe," he said, the AP reports.

Read more at the Associated Press.

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