McCarthy affirms validity of crime stats

Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy took a shot at the media Friday when questioned about the city’s crime numbers.

McCarthy said crime statistics are often reported “without context.” Some aldermen are not buying it.

McCarthy came to Chicago from Newark, New Jersey, around the time federal investigators began looking into the department he had run over complaints of excessive force and lack of oversight. But McCarthy drove crime down in Newark, and he said he is proud to be doing the same thing here.

“Overall crime is down by about a third in the last three years,” McCarthy said. “That’s significant progress.”

It is also a number some find hard to believe.

Some cops will argue McCarthy took on the toughest policing job in the United States: trying to curb Chicago’s violent crime rate, which hits its peak in the hot summer months.

Surrounded by department brass, he told aldermen violent crime now is at its lowest level in decades — a message he thinks gets lost in the chatter on-air and online, particularly when it comes to social media. So, his department is using technology to fight back.

“CPD is a national leader on data transparency,” McCarthy said. “We put every criminal incident up on the city data portal.”

“There’s a lot of shell games being prepared here,” Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2nd Ward, said. “And all the city council and the members want to do is re-establish trust in the Chicago Police Department.”

That council hearing was prompted by media reports and a report by a city watchdog that questioned the way the department handles its crime numbers, suggesting those books might be being cooked. McCarthy admits there have been some issues in that area that predate him but have been addressed now.

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