Chicago, IL – After a year of intense gang-related violence and murder in 2012, Chicagoans can breathe a bit easier in the first months of 2013. Three months after becoming the nation’s murder capital, Chicago has seen a dramatic decrease in crime.
In the first quarter of 2013, murders dropped 42 percent over the exact same period last year, and gun-related violence was down 27 percent. Authorities say that the drop is thanks to their recent anti-gang initiatives, but Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says there’s still a long way to go.
“These numbers are progress but they are by no means victory,” McCarthy said in a statement.
Still, the drop is incredibly encouraging for the city of Chicago, which has been forced onto the national stage after a series of gang-related shootings turned the city into one of our nation’s most dangerous.
Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States, and closed out 2012 with 506 murders, the more than even Detroit. January was one of the worst Chicago has seen in a decade, as well. Of particular note, teenager Hadiya Pendleton was gunned down and killed just days after performing with her school’s marching band at President Obama’s second inauguration.
March marked a positive turn in the Windy City’s crime rate, with murders dropping 69 percent and 36 fewer people killed than in the same month last year.
The month of March still saw some pretty morbid headlines, with McCarthy blaming warmer weather for bringing out the city’s youth. But since Pendleton’s murder, Chicago’s police department has more officers on the street and City Hall has expanded its after-school and summer job programs to keep kids from joining gangs.
Still, McCarthy says that there are no shortcuts in the war on crime, and despite “encouraging” first-quarter numbers, the police still have their hands full for 2013.
“It’s not like a Jenga game where if you pull out that one stick everything falls down,” he remarked.
Are you impressed by the drop in Chicago crime? Do you think it will keep up throughout 2013?
[Image via: Wikimedia Commons]