Chicago had over 500 murders last year, and is on track to repeat that number this year, barring some kind of major change. Here’s an interesting read speculating on some of the causes of Chicago’s accelerating murder rate. The author, Aaron Renn, doesn’t claim that these are the causes, he just cites them as possible contributing factors. He wonders why other large cities like New York and Los Angeles aren’t experiencing similar problems.
After over 500 murders in Chicago in 2012, the Windy City’s violence epidemic continues – 2013 saw the deadliest January in over a decade – and continues to make national news. The New York Times, for example, ran a recent piece noting how Chicago’s strict gun laws can’t stem the tide of violence.
The NYT piece predictably spurred much debate over gun policy, but that distracts from the real question: why exactly does Chicago have so many murders? Chicago had 512 murders in 2012. New York City – with three times Chicago’s population – had only 418 murders, the lowest since record keeping began in the 1960s. Los Angeles, with over a million more people than Chicago, had only 298 murders. These other cities can’t be accused of lax gun laws or somehow being immune to guns being brought in illegally from more lenient jurisdictions. So what’s different about Chicago?
It’s impossible to say for certain what is causing Chicago’s unique murder problem, but a few possibilities suggest themselves.
- The number of police officers. Depending on the report, Chicago’s police department is about 1,000 officers short of authorized strength and is facing a large number of looming retirements while few new recruits are brought in due to budget constraints. This clearly has had an impact. However, NYPD has also seen a decline in the number of officers without this effect.
- Police tactics. New York has made headlines with controversial, but apparently effective, tactics like the so-called “stop and frisk” policy. The city hasn’t hesitated to defend these, even in the face of enormous negative press and lawsuits. Los Angeles has made huge strides in moving past its Detective Mark Furhman era reputation to build bridges to minority communities while Chicago has spent years and millions of dollars ignoring and defending officers who used torture to extract confessions. New York and Los Angeles also have more experience with statistically driven policing than Chicago.
Read the other 5 possible reasons at Why Are There So Many Murders in Chicago? | Newgeography.com.