CHICAGO -- 2016 was the most violent year Chicago has seen in nearly two decades.
The city had 762 homicides in 2016 — that's more than the largest cities, New York and Los Angeles, combined. The Chicago Police Department says the city had 1,100 more shootings last year than in 2015. The statistics have put Chicago at the center of a national dialogue about gun violence.
To put this violent crime in perspective, here’s a shocking statistic: someone was shot in Chicago roughly every two hours of every day last year. The city saw more homicides than any year since the violent crime wave of the 1990's.
CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson admitted 2016 was difficult and disheartening while laying plans for reversing the trend in 2017 Sunday.
“It’s no secret that the city of Chicago had its fair share of challenges in 2016,” Johnson said.
Shootings were up nearly 50 percent from last year and the number of homicides jumped nearly 65 percent. The shocking increase in violent crime came largely from just five police districts on the city’s West Side and South Side.
“Despite the belief that the entire city is up for grabs, the majority of the increase in the violence we saw in 2016 the majority of the violence was driven by 5 out of the 22 police districts," Johnson said.
Authorities say gangs, drugs, and especially illegal guns are driving the problem, even though last year Chicago cops took 8,300 guns off the street.
“It just goes to show you, that there’s more to reducing violence than making more arrests, and it makes it clear that CPD can’t do it solely on its own. No one can,” Johnson said.
Johnson outlined his 2017 crime reduction plan at a news conference Sunday, which includes:
- Hiring additional officers
- Offering incentives to developers who bring jobs to high-crime communities
- Mentoring teens in the city’s 20 most violent neighborhoods
- Strengthening gun laws for repeat offenders
- Focusing on policies and training
- Revising the department’s community policing strategy
The department will also increase its use of technology like street cameras, body cameras, and Shot Spotter to detect gunfire. Additionally, they'll open two new Strategic Decision Support Centers, which are staffed 24-7 to provide real-time information and analysis. They will open in the 11th District in Lawndale and the 7th District in Englewood.
"These centers along with the expanded shot spotter will be online in both districts this month," Johnson said. "Chicago will be the first city in the United States to roll out this system.”
With new technology, and a new strategy, Johnson says he’s confident the city’s violent crime will decrease next year.
“I’m optimistic... If we get the tools that we need, and the help that we need, i guarantee you 2017 will be much better than 2016," Johnson said.
This year could also see additional challenges for Chicago police as the U.S. Justice Department is expected to wrap up its lengthy investigation into the CPD's policies and practices.