Though Chicago has seen a downturn in shootings and homicides so far this year, police are preparing for Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start to summer that historically has been a springboard to citywide violence.
A surge in Chicago gun violence typically accompanies warm weather over the long holiday weekend, and temperatures this Memorial Day are expected to match that of an especially bloody 2016 holiday when 69 people were shot, six fatally.
The National Weather Service says temperatures in the city will hit the mid- to high-80s through Monday, with a chance to reach the 90s each day of the weekend.
Last year,Chicago comfortably enjoyed 70-degree weather all weekend — and 19 fewer people were shot compared to 2016.
Though the warm forecast doesn’t bode well for a safe holiday, Chicago is in the middle of another year of reduced violence.
Through Wednesday, 941 people had been wounded in 781 separate shootings this year, according to the Chicago Police Department. Through the same timeframe last year, 1,239 people were shot in 996 incidents.
The reduction in shootings has led to a sizable decrease in homicides.
Since the start of this year, 181 people have been slain, including 150 shooting deaths, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times. Compare that to the same period last year, when 234 people had been killed in the city, 218 of them by gunshots.
In 2016, a total of 214 people had been shot dead by May 24, with 240 homicides in all.
In an effort to curb the holiday’s expected violence, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson announced this week that the department will flood city streets with more than 1,000 additional officers deployed citywide through Tuesday. Additional officers will also be deployed through the summer.
Last year, CPD ramped up deployment over the Memorial Day weekend to the tune of 1,300 more cops, a tactic officials pointed to in the shooting decrease. CPD also arrested more than two dozen people at the start of last year’s holiday weekend in a series of raids.
The department says it will again execute arrest warrants this weekend for those who they believe are likely to engage in weekend violence.
“Anything that we can do to prevent violence in the city, we’re going to do,” Johnson said at a press conference Tuesday at CPD headquarters. “You can’t put a price on safety, you just can’t.”