Don’t conclude that Chicago’s decline in arrests caused increase in shootings

The fact that many serious crimes in Chicago remain unsolved raises concerns about competent detective work and the trust-building with communities critical to getting information for successful prosecutions.

SHARE Don’t conclude that Chicago’s decline in arrests caused increase in shootings
Chicago police have made arrests in fewer and fewer crimes in recent years.

Chicago police have made arrests in fewer and fewer crimes in recent years.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The headline and narrative contained in the Sun-Times’ recent examination of arrest rates in the City of Chicago, “As violent crime in Chicago soared, arrests fell to historic lows,” is confusing and misleading to all Chicagoans who desire a reduction in violence in their neighborhoods.

The article points out a serious issue: that the Chicago Police Department has an abysmal record of solving homicides and other “index” crimes, making arrests in fewer than one in 10 cases.

But that is a separate issue from a decline in the number of arrests or stops.And no one should conclude that a decline in arrests in Chicago has caused an increase in shootings.In fact, as the article’s data shows, total crimes have decreased over the past 20 years.That many serious crimes in Chicago remain unsolved raises concerns about competent detective work and the trust-building with communities critical to getting information needed for successful prosecutions.

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The article also misses the forest for the trees by focusing on arrest and stop numbers, rather than the need to ensure these actions are based on evidence of criminal activity — not stereotyping or sweeping up large numbers of people in dragnets.

Chicago will not reduce serious crime through high volumes of pedestrian and traffic stops, frisks and searches.Data demonstrate that CPD officers spend an inordinate amount of time stopping and searching Black Chicago residents, with very little to show for it.In 2021, for instance, Black drivers in Chicago were more than five times more likely than white drivers to be stopped, but only about 0.1% of stops of Black drivers yielded any contraband.

This activity has not made us safer.

Some unnamed officers cited in the story say they feel constrained by being required to follow the Constitution when policing the streets of Chicago.Years of rogue, overly aggressive policing has driven a wedge between the police and community members, leading too many residents to believe they cannot trust the police and thereby decreasing the likelihood that crimes will be solved.Officers and supervisors tarnish the city by deciding unilaterally to ignore criminal activity because these long-tolerated, unconstitutional practices no longer are permitted.

Alexandra K. Block, senior supervising attorney, ACLU of Illinois

End deadly border policies

We applaud the Sun-Times editorial, “Congress must craft immigration reform that respects, protects human life,” which captures the impact of deadly immigration policies that harm individuals, and most recently, resulted in the death of 53 people who suffocated in a trailer near San Antonio.

Although the Biden administration committed to reversing harsh and illegal policies of the previous administration which dismantled the asylum system, significant obstacles persist. Proposed legislation in Congress threatens to make Title 42 permanent, which uses the racist pretext of public health concerns to bar asylum-seekers from entering the country. And a legal battle delayed the wind-down of the Remain in Mexico program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, which forces asylum seekers to fight their cases from outside the United States.

With the Supreme Court’s assurance that President Biden has the authority to end MPP, it is now imperative for the administration to act, before another tragedy claims the lives of more people.

Ann Marie Walsh, co-chair, National Immigrant Justice Center Leadership Board

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