Chicago hasn't seen a homicide rate like this since the '90s

Since the beginning of the year, the city of Chicago has experienced 135 homicides, a 71% increase over the same period last year.  This puts the city on pace for more than 500 homicides for the year – a figure topped only once since 2008.

Chicago Tribune:

As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, homicides totaled 135, a 71 percent jump over the 79 killings in the same year-earlier period, official Police Department statistics show. That represented the worst first quarter of a year since 136 homicides in 1999, according to the data.

Shootings have jumped by comparable numbers as well. As of Wednesday, at least 727 people had been shot in Chicago so far this year, a 73 percent rise from 422 a year earlier, according to a Tribune analysis of department data.

Worse yet, that jump follows two consecutive years in which shootings rose by double digits, the analysis found. Homicides also rose by about 12.5 percent last year over 2014.

If there was any hopeful sign in the numbers, it would be that for most of March, homicides rose citywide by a more modest 25 percent from the same year-earlier period, the department said.

That's a "hopeful sign"?  Really?

Crime experts caution about making year-to-year comparisons, but Arthur Lurigio, a professor of criminal justice and psychology at Loyola University Chicago, called the escalating violence at the start of the year "alarming."

"We have to go back decades to find jumps of this magnitude in year-to-year comparisons," he said. "We're on our way to 500 homicides again. We're going backward."

After an unrelated news conference Wednesday, new interim police Superintendent Eddie Johnson found an optimistic note in the recent slowing of the percentage increase in homicides.

"If we can build on that momentum, we'll be doing good," he said.

Johnson said gang conflicts and the proliferation of guns continue to fuel the violence. The department also disclosed that more than half of the homicide victims so far this year had been targeted as likely gun violence victims or offenders in a novel program in which commanders try to persuade them to give up the gang life.

Blaming the violence on an increase in guns is par for the course in urban environments.  Far more at fault is a police department that is demoralized over scandals and lack of leadership:

In February, the Tribune reported a precipitous drop in morale among Chicago police, citing interviews with numerous officers. They told the newspaper the McDonald shooting had made them less aggressive on the street out of fear that doing even basic police work would get them into trouble. Criminals were taking advantage of their passive approach, they said.

The Police Department on Jan. 1 also began requiring that cops fill out detailed reports every time they make a street stop as part of a new state law and a landmark agreement worked out with the American Civil Liberties Union. The change — the result of concerns over racial profiling — has not only kept officers busy with paperwork longer than before, officers said, but also increased their anxiety about being second-guessed on whom they've stopped.

The result was that officers made 6,818 arrests in January, a 32 percent drop from nearly 10,000 arrests a year earlier. The number of street stops also has plummeted, with 9,044 investigatory stop reports issued in January, a fraction of the 61,330 "contact cards" that police issued during January 2015.

While officers are filling out idiotic paperwork, gangbangers are running wild in the streets.  In effect, cops have to prove their innocence of racial profiling every single day. 

Perhaps we should be surprised the murder rate isn't higher, given the circumstances. 

Since the beginning of the year, the city of Chicago has experienced 135 homicides, a 71% increase over the same period last year.  This puts the city on pace for more than 500 homicides for the year – a figure topped only once since 2008.

Chicago Tribune:

As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, homicides totaled 135, a 71 percent jump over the 79 killings in the same year-earlier period, official Police Department statistics show. That represented the worst first quarter of a year since 136 homicides in 1999, according to the data.

Shootings have jumped by comparable numbers as well. As of Wednesday, at least 727 people had been shot in Chicago so far this year, a 73 percent rise from 422 a year earlier, according to a Tribune analysis of department data.

Worse yet, that jump follows two consecutive years in which shootings rose by double digits, the analysis found. Homicides also rose by about 12.5 percent last year over 2014.

If there was any hopeful sign in the numbers, it would be that for most of March, homicides rose citywide by a more modest 25 percent from the same year-earlier period, the department said.

That's a "hopeful sign"?  Really?

Crime experts caution about making year-to-year comparisons, but Arthur Lurigio, a professor of criminal justice and psychology at Loyola University Chicago, called the escalating violence at the start of the year "alarming."

"We have to go back decades to find jumps of this magnitude in year-to-year comparisons," he said. "We're on our way to 500 homicides again. We're going backward."

After an unrelated news conference Wednesday, new interim police Superintendent Eddie Johnson found an optimistic note in the recent slowing of the percentage increase in homicides.

"If we can build on that momentum, we'll be doing good," he said.

Johnson said gang conflicts and the proliferation of guns continue to fuel the violence. The department also disclosed that more than half of the homicide victims so far this year had been targeted as likely gun violence victims or offenders in a novel program in which commanders try to persuade them to give up the gang life.

Blaming the violence on an increase in guns is par for the course in urban environments.  Far more at fault is a police department that is demoralized over scandals and lack of leadership:

In February, the Tribune reported a precipitous drop in morale among Chicago police, citing interviews with numerous officers. They told the newspaper the McDonald shooting had made them less aggressive on the street out of fear that doing even basic police work would get them into trouble. Criminals were taking advantage of their passive approach, they said.

The Police Department on Jan. 1 also began requiring that cops fill out detailed reports every time they make a street stop as part of a new state law and a landmark agreement worked out with the American Civil Liberties Union. The change — the result of concerns over racial profiling — has not only kept officers busy with paperwork longer than before, officers said, but also increased their anxiety about being second-guessed on whom they've stopped.

The result was that officers made 6,818 arrests in January, a 32 percent drop from nearly 10,000 arrests a year earlier. The number of street stops also has plummeted, with 9,044 investigatory stop reports issued in January, a fraction of the 61,330 "contact cards" that police issued during January 2015.

While officers are filling out idiotic paperwork, gangbangers are running wild in the streets.  In effect, cops have to prove their innocence of racial profiling every single day. 

Perhaps we should be surprised the murder rate isn't higher, given the circumstances.