CHICAGO — Chicago just recorded the lowest number of homicides in a January in nine years, police said Friday — another sign that killings in the nation’s third-largest city may be on a downward trend after a particularly deadly 2016.
Twenty homicides happened there in January — the lowest number for that month since 19 were recorded in 2010, police said.
Last month’s number of shootings, 100, is a five-year low for a January in the city, police said.
Violent crime totals in Chicago grabbed headlines in recent years. In 2016, the city reported its highest number of homicides in two decades: 762.
Killings have dropped since then: 650 in 2017 and 550 in 2018.
Police credit technology and hirings
Police have credited the drop in violence partly to hiring more police officers, and stronger community policing. The police department added 1,161 officers in two years, exceeding a 2016 pledge made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to add 970.
They also credit what they call data-driven policing. The department created 20 support centers where supervisors use information from many sources and technologies — including cameras and gunshot detection systems — to learn where crimes are happening and where they are likely to occur.
“Are we where we want to be? No,” Johnson said in a statement Friday. “However, these (January 2019) figures prove that community policing has considerable merit. (The Chicago Police Department) continues to invest in ways to incorporate the invaluable knowledge of those living within our neighborhoods into our public safety strategy.”
The city had struggled to contain violence in almost every major category of crime since 2016 after the release in late 2015 of police video that showed a white officer shooting a black teenager 16 times.
The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was sentenced two weeks ago to 81 months in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of the teen, Laquan McDonald.