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.
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.