As Chicago’s violence continues, top cop sees signs of hope

SHARE As Chicago’s violence continues, top cop sees signs of hope

Supt. Eddie Johnson. | Getty Images file photo

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said Wednesday there are “promising signs and results” in crime reduction so far this year, while also saying he would welcome President Donald Trump’s offer of federal-government help with the city’s violence problem.

Citywide, the number of shootings and homicides this January remained roughly the same as during the same month in 2016, meaning the new year is off to another violent start, according to crime statistics compiled by the Chicago Sun-Times.

But, “59 neighborhoods in the city either remain flat or saw a reduction in the number of homicides compared to the same time in 2016,” said Johnson, talking to reporters in the 7th District on the Southwest Side.

Johnson also pointed out that the 9th District — in the top three in the city for murders in 2016 — has seen a 50 percent drop so far this year compared to the same time last year.

Around the same time Johnson was meeting with the press, Trump was meeting in Washington with African-American leaders. During that meeting, Trump was receptive to a pastor’s idea of a possible meeting with street gang members in Chicago about curbing violence in exchange for “social programs.” The pastor said he’d spoken with undisclosed gang leaders in Chicago.

According to the Sun-Times list compiled using Cook County medical examiner’s and other public records, there were 53 homicides in Chicago in January 2017. The Sun-Times also recorded 245 shooting incidents last month with 307 victims, seven of whom were children aged 14 or younger.

The police department’s numbers were slightly different.

Police recorded 51 murders across the city last month, one more than January 2016, the department said. Three police districts on the city’s South and West sides – the Englewood, Harrison and Austin districts – accounted for about half of the city’s murders last month.

Police counted 234 shooting incidents – eight fewer than in January 2016 – with 299 victims, an increase of eight compared to the same period last year.

“Murders and shootings remain at levels unacceptable to me, and you have my word that we will continue to put our plans into place and make necessary investments in technology and training of our officers to make Chicago a safer city,” he said.

Asked what help he would like from Trump, he said, “More federal agents would be a nice thing,” in addition to more federal prosecutions and funding for programs to help steer at-risk youth toward “an alternative path in their lives.”

Contributing: Sun-Times Wire

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