CHICAGO — Chicago police say the city has seen a reduction in gun violence for the seventh straight month, and the department is planning to expand its use of tech tools that help combat crime.
According to the Chicago Police Department, the city has recorded more than 500 murders and about 1,600 nonfatal shootings through September, a 7% reduction in murders and a 16 % reduction in shootings so far this year.
The department credits a number of things, including an increase in gun arrests, a crackdown on problem businesses and new technology in six police districts on the South and West sides that’s helping officers predict where crime is going to happen. This includes Shot Spotter, which alerts officers to shootings on their cell phones before they ever receive a 911 call, allowing them to respond to scenes much quicker. These districts also have ‘nerve centers’ with state-of-the-art cameras, so officers can keep an eye on things in the streets, from the district.
But the improving crime rate doesn’t mean much to some in the Little Village neighborhood, where on Sunday morning a maintenance worker was cleaning up glass blasted by bullets at the corner of 26th and Kildare Saturday.
Resident Martha Gomez was walking to McDonalds to get breakfast with her 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter when they found themselves in the middle of a shootout.
“When we were walking over here from the stop bus, we hear what we think was a fireworks,” Gomez said. “I was so scared, and I was crying, I couldn’t believe what was happening.”
It was one of at least five violent incidents to happen near the corner since Friday, when a man was shot in the head and killed at a laundromat on the same block.
“There’s no doubt this area is being ignored – it’s been put on a back burner for years, and we’re frustrated,” said community activist Rauel Montez.
Montez is calling for more foot patrols and police cameras in Little Village.
“Today, we are asking our aldermen and our mayor to work together to collaborate to bring more foot patrol officers to the area,” Montez said.
Sunday, the police department announced it will be expanding on its use of technology, bringing new technology nerve centers with Shot Spotter to six more of the city’s most violent districts by the end of 2018. Those districts include Grand Crossing, South Chicago, Chicago Lawn, and Grand Central.
The department said the six districts that currently use the technology are showing a 20 percent reduction in shootings on average, and they will continue to expand.
“The investments we’ve made have made us more predictive in our deployments and proactive in our engagements. It has helped us to completely change the way we police in Chicago,” said CPD First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro.
Little Village is in one of the police districts that already uses the advanced technology. But on a corner where the problem of violent crime is a daily reality, activists hope that’s a step in the right direction.
“People are tired of being held hostage in their homes, they can’t even let their kids out,” Montez said.