Chicago’s bloody Easter
More than 40 were shot with nine killed in Chicago over Easter weekend. At least six of those wounded were children.
But despite the bloody weekend, murder rates in the city are actually down, according to Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy. He told WGN radio last week that Chicago’s homicide rate is “still ahead of where we were last year, which was a record.”
CNN reports the number of homicides in Chicago last year dropped to 415, compared to 503 in 2012, an 18 percent drop. “A week doesn’t wipe out two years of progress,” McCarthy told WGN.
But some question the stats. Chicago Magazine reports after a 12 month examination of the Chicago Police Department’s crime statistics, they identified at least 10 people who were violently killed (shot, stabbed, burned etc.) in 2013 whose “cases were reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents – all for illogical or, at best, unclear reasons.”
For example, the case of Tiara Groves, a 20-year-old woman found dead and bound in a Chicago warehouse. At first, the police classified Groves as a murder victim, but months later her case was reclassified as a noncriminal death investigation.
“With the stroke of a computer key, she was airbrushed out of Chicago’s homicide statistics,” Chicago Magazine reports.
And Groves’ case is not isolated. Chicago Magazine reports there are strong internal pressures on officers to reclassify incident reports to keep crime stats artificially low, drawing into question the accuracy of the Chicago Police Department’s statistics.
Stats aside, the city has worked to tighten its gun laws in effort to curb the violence, much of which is atrtibuted to gang activity in the city.
According to The Washington Post Chicago's gun control laws are now some of the most strident in the nation. McCarthy says his officers have seized 1,500 illegal guns so far this year, but their efforts can do little to stop the tremendous numbers of illegal guns on the city’s streets. “It’s like running on a hamster wheel,” he told The Daily Beast, “We’re drinking from a fire hose, seizing these guns, and people are back out on the street.”
One of the major issues, according to the local ABC affiliate, is that in Chicago, guns are gathered but offenders are not punished to the full extent of the law. "Every single year we take more guns off the street than any police department in the country, and nobody goes to jail for possession of those guns," McCarthy told ABC.
The minimum mandatory penalty for illegal gun possession is one year in Chicago, according to ABC. But with good behavior credits, most convicts are out in half that time. Some Cook County judges sentence gun offenders to probation. If these provisions were removed, 169 offenders responsible for 2013’s murders or shootings would have been behind bars.
Legislation stalling in the Illinois House would lock up illegal firearm carriers for a minimum of three years, without good behavior credits, and would require them to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. The legislation passed the Illinois Senate last year, and has the support of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to ABC.