Chicago’s crime rate? It’s not what you think.

En route to preparing for Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda’s appearance on today’s edition of Left, Right and You (WRMN A.M. 1410 between 3 and 4 p.m.), I learned some surprising things about those supposedly abysmal Chicago crime statistics.  chicago crime

Of course, what prompted that endeavor was the vast outcry as a result of the Second City’s disastrous Fourth of July weekend in which 82 people were shot and 14 of them died. Before going down the more well travelled sensational route, I thought it might be prudent to see exactly how Chicago stacked up to the rest of the country.

And I have to say I was a more than a little bit surprised at what I found.

Yes! It’s true. With 415 murders in 2013, the city that works doesn’t when it comes to heading off homicides. New York, with three times the populace, had to contend with only 350 murders and LA witnessed a mere 250 homicides in the same time period, despite being 25 percent bigger.

So Mayor Emanuel and Police Superintendent McCarthy certainly have their work cut out for them in that regard. Perhaps it’s a unique variety of gang violence borne of being a major drug hub, but whatever the underlying issues are, the fact that Chicago sees more homicides than the Big Apple just ain’t right.

But as far as the most dangerous cities in the country go, Chicago doesn’t begin to measure up. According to a very recent Yale study, the Second City’s per capita violent crime rate puts them squarely at number 19 on the large city list alongside generally docile municipalities like Minneapolis and Houston.

In fact, the Midwestern metropolises of Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland, and, oddly enough, Milwaukee all have higher murder rates than the City of Chicago. If you consider all U.S. cities regardless of size, Chicago doesn’t even crack the top 100!

The Yale study further notes that:

  • As bad as it appears to be, Chicago is “on track” to have their lowest violent crime rate since 1972 and the lowest homicide rate since 1967.
  •  From January 1, 2013 trough the end of November, 87 percent of Chicago neighborhoods saw a decrease in violent crimes.
  •  Of those 77 neighborhoods, 16 of them saw a 25 percent or higher decrease in their violent crime rate.

So while I certainly wouldn’t advise wandering around the loop while waving a wad of cash, despite all those July 5 headlines, as far as big cities go, Chicago is actually quite safe.

That said, I still would avoid running a red light nor availing yourself of any of the downtown parking meters. That’s where the real crime is.

7 thoughts on “Chicago’s crime rate? It’s not what you think.

  1. Yes, this all may be correct, but we don’t live near Minneapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland, or milwaukee,
    we live near CHICAGO, and the crime rate in some western collar counties, DeKalb noted, is exported from Chicago via I-88.

  2. No matter what the crime rate is in Chicago, either higher or lower, it still has its effects on the collar counties because those leaving Chicago to escape the problem often bring family members who are part of the problem. A former police officer once told me I would be afraid if I knew what is in some cars travelling to DeKalb on Rt. 38 and I-88.

    The demolition of Cabrini Green has caused the exodus of some of its residents to DeKalb, some of whom have moved criminal operations to that city. Route 88 gives easy access for traffic in both directions.

    See if you can contact “off the record” a DeKalb police officer who is willing to tell you what is going on out there. If you can’t find one, a bus driver for DeKalb schools can tell you.

    • Observer,

      Now I get what you’re trying to say. Malcolm Gladwell talks about this phenomenon in his book “The Tipping Point.”

      The problem with your argument is, with the exception of DeKalb, if Chicago weren’t there then we suburbs wouldn’t be here either. Thus, there are some things that come along with metropolitan growth and a decent highway system.

      But the fact remains, that Chicago’s violent crime rate is not what folks think it is.

      Jeff

  3. Jeff, C’mon you are smarter than this. You are comparing homicide rates, not sheer numbers. Geneva just had a murder, I bet their “rate” now puts them in the top 100 crime communities in the country. Just look at numbers. “Fourth of July weekend in which 82 people were shot and 14 of them died.” I don’t care how many millions of people live in the metro, 82 shot is a HUGE number, more than raw numbers out of NYC and LA.

    82 people, all on the south and west sides. Gerry McCarthy is an idiot, simply an Emanuel pawn, soon to be fired as the mayor looks at his dwindling support prior to announcing he will be Hillary’s running mate..

    • Jon, Jon, Jon,

      I CLEARLY noted that Chicago has the highest number of homicides which is particularly baffling when NY and LA are more populous cities.

      But violent crime rates in Chicago in general have been trending downward for a very long time and almost every other major Midwestern CIty has a higher murder rate than Chicago does. Fact are facts!

      Jeff

  4. Thanks for finally writing about >Chicago’s
    crime rate? It’s not what you think. | The First Ward <Liked it!

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