Editorial: High homicide rate cannot be tolerated

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Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy | Tim Boyle/For Sun-Times Media

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The mayor has his top cop’s back.

In a meeting with the Sun-Times Editorial Board Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel made clear that he’s sticking with Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, citing a significant overall drop in violent crime in Chicago in three of the last four years.

But earlier in the day, in his speech to the City Council, the mayor acknowledged the one troubling exception to that trend — shootings and murders so far this year have gone up, despite the city’s “very best efforts.” That, he said, is “unacceptable” and “must be addressed.”

All caring Chicagoans, of course, would agree. There can be no greater police priority for the mayor and McCarthy. As part of his 2016 budget, the mayor says, he will reassign 319 police officers from desk duty to the streets.

EDITORIAL

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In Chicago so far this year, 2,219 people have been shot, and the number of gun deaths is up by at least 57. Just from Friday evening through Monday morning, 45 people were shot, seven of whom died. One of those who died was a teenage basketball player in St. Sabina’s Peace League.

Permissive gun laws are set at state and national levels, not by the city — we get that. And so many other cultural, educational and economic factors, all beyond the reach of the police, play into the city’s murder rate. But for the sake of every fearful citizen, there can be no let-up in efforts to reduce the number of shootings and homicides.

Those numbers — not overall crime stats — are the ultimate barometer of a city’s safety.

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