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Chicago had fewest murders in January since 2010: police

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson | Sun-Times filed

Chicago’s first month of 2019 ended with the lowest number of murders during any January in the past nine years, according to data collected by Chicago police.

The 20 homicides recorded in Chicago last month — the smallest total of any January since 2010, when 19 people were murdered — came during a month of violent crime overall decreasing compared to a year earlier, Chicago police said Friday. Forty people were murdered in January 2018.

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The Sun-Times also counted 20 murders in Chicago during January, with an additional two likely homicide victims being reported this week. They are a 21-year-old man shot to death in West Elsdon Monday morning and a 23-year-old woman found dead Thursday morning in Grand Crossing after her child went missing. The Cook County medical examiner’s office is scheduled to rule on their official causes of death after autopsies.

Last month, 100 shootings were documented within city limits, the lowest figure of any January in the past five years, police said. It was also the third straight year of a downturn in gun violence during January; there were 206 shootings in the first month of 2016.

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson credited the declines to the department’s use of community policing to encourage neighborhood residents to be proactive in fighting crime.

“Our officers have stood at the forefront of these ongoing reductions,” Johnson said. “Are we where we want to be? No. However these figures prove that community policing has considerable merit.”

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Overall crime in Chicago decreased by 9 percent in January compared to a year ago, police said. There were fewer reported robberies, burglaries and vehicle thefts last month than any January in the past two decades.

Gun arrests and seizures slightly ramped up last month. Officers in January confiscated 750 illegal guns, or about one gun every hour, police said. That’s 42 more than last year.

Meanwhile, 272 people were arrested for having illegal guns this January, up 10 arrests from January 2018, police said.