Incidents of murder and shootings continue to fall in Chicago, according to crime figures released by the Chicago Police Department on Sunday.
March marked the 13th consecutive month for dwindling gun violence, the report showed, with shootings down 17 percent and killings down 25 percent compared to this same time last year. Year-to-date, murders fell 22 percent while shootings fell 25 percent. Chicago PD also recovered more than 1,900 guns, a three percent increase from last year.
For a city long plagued by deadly gun violence, the new numbers are cause for celebration. But Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says, “not so fast.”
“We’re making progress and certainly it’s not cause for celebration,” Johnson said. “But when you look at it you do have to acknowledge progress.”
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” he continued. “As long as we keep trending the way we are and we keep developing these relationships and partnerships and continue to invest in our police department, then we’ll see the gains that we’re looking for.”
CPD officials have attributed the recent declines to the hiring of additional officers, stronger community policing and investments in technology, such as gunshot protection systems, CNN reported. Police said the new technology, including predictive crime software, has been rolled out in almost half the city’s police districts.
Experts say there’s still work to be done, however.
“There are still way, way, way too many people being shot and being killed in the city,” Max Kapustin, research director at the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs, told CNN. “The progress is real and it’s very important people realize that. It’s incremental, though, and we’ve still got a long way to go.”
“I think gun recovery numbers are also very important,” Kapustin added. “They’re a good predictor of what sort of year we’re going to have, I think, because the violence that we’re seeing is gun violence, period.”
Johnson said the department will continue upping its patrol numbers as more officers are added to the force. Eighty-six officers were deployed just this month to bolster the current 720 officers hired as part of the department’s two year plan to add nearly 1,000 new positions, officials said.
CPD will also focus on creating and strengthening community partnerships.
“CPD can’t do this alone,” Johnson said. “So we need those community partners to help us continue the crime reduction.”