Chicago cops explain why they’re making fewer arrests, a priest kicked out over assault accusations returns, family gives update on Cooper Roberts and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Chicago police officers at a promotion and graduation ceremony last Oct. 20.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will see showers and possibly a thunderstorm — with a high near 73 degrees. Similar conditions will continue into tonight with a low near 68. Tomorrow will be partly sunny with a high near 83. Sunday will be mostly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms and a high near 81.

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Afternoon Edition
Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

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Top story

As violent crime in Chicago soared, arrests fell to historic lows

Since 2020, violent crime in Chicago has continued to surge — and arrests have fallen to historic lows.

The police have made arrests in just 12% of crimes reported last year, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis. That’s the lowest level since at least 2001, the first year the data was made publicly available.

The overall arrest rate peaked at nearly 31% in 2005 and has dropped steadily.

The decline in arrests mirrors a drop in nearly every category of police officers’ activity tracked by the Chicago Police Department. The numbers of traffic stops, tickets and investigative stops — in which pedestrians are patted down or searched by officers on the street — all have plummeted. The number of investigative stops dropped by more than half between 2019 and last year, falling from 155,000 citywide to 69,000.

And fewer crimes overall are getting reported — by victims and by the police, who used to produce many crime reports themselves while patrolling their beats.

The slowdown amounts to a pullback by police officers as the city has experienced its most violent years in decades, a rise also seen in other major U.S. cities.

Rank-and-file police who patrol the streets and even top brass say officers are doing less.

In 2019, as the overall arrest rate continued to fall, City Hall agreed to a federal consent decree aimed at overhauling the police department following the killing by a police officer of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014 on the Southwest Side.

The department has since made reforms aimed at changing how officers do their jobs, including a stricter vehicle pursuit policy and a new foot pursuit policy.

Also, cops have been told to stop enforcing some low-level offenses, including the possession of small amounts of marijuana, which was legalized in Illinois as of the start of 2020.

But the number of arrests for possessing harder drugs, like heroin, also has fallen significantly. Those arrests peaked at 7,753 in 2001 but dropped last year to 929.

Current and former police officers — who agreed to speak on the condition they not be identified — say cops have been pulling back for other reasons.

Veteran cops say they used to go out of their way to make arrests when they saw suspicious activity but that they’re less likely to now for fear of getting into trouble and being fired or arrested.

Tom Schuba, Andy Grimm, Jesse Howe and Andy Boyle have more of the story behind the numbers here.

More news you need

  1. In another deep dive into data, Grimm takes a look at North Lawndale’s West Side police district where the number of arrests have fallen by nearly half from pre-pandemic levels. Yet while the arrests have fallen there, the figure remains the highest in the city.
  2. The Rev. Luis Andrade was expelled from the Episcopal Church as a priest in 2019 after an internal investigation found that accusations of sexual misconduct three women leveled against him were credible. He now oversees a church in Berwyn, our Robert Herguth and Elvia Malagón report.
  3. His spinal cord severed during the Highland Park parade shooting, 8-year-old Cooper Roberts “continues to fight as hard as he can” but remains in critical condition after his latest surgery. Our Brett Chase has the latest from Cooper’s family on the boy’s recovery here.
  4. As people fled the July 4 parade shooting, a woman stopped to pick up a tiny terrier that was bleeding. Neighbors, a vet and social media got Lola the Yorkie back with her family, though she lost vision in one eye, they said.
  5. A death investigation is underway after a Chicago police officer was found dead inside his home today. He was discovered early in the morning at his residence in the 1st Police District, which includes the Loop and South Loop, Chicago police said.
  6. Two men who have maintained their innocence in a deadly 1986 fire walked free early this morning after an appeals court questioned the evidence that sent them to prison for life. “I have to learn how to be free,” said Arthur Almendarez, who, along with John Galvan, was greeted by a crowd of family and friends upon his release.
  7. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is appointing former Ald. Michael Scott Jr. to serve on the Board of Education. The move fills the seat of current board member Dwayne Truss, who was surprised to learn he’s being pushed off the board.
  8. The Museum of Ice Cream, a new interactive experience, is opening downtown tomorrow at the Shops at Tribune Tower. The museum’s founders say the experience was created with both kids and adults in mind.
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A bright one

Around Chicago, grabbing paddles and boats for ‘river therapy’ amid the pandemic

Interest in kayaking soared during the coronavirus pandemic as a socially distanced outdoor activity.

For many, a pleasant diversion has become an important part of their lives, offering a window into a previously unfamiliar world.

Conservation groups welcome the interest and hope it will help them develop, map, promote, clean up and run excursions on the 87,000-mile web of waterways in Illinois and bring kayaking to more people, including Black residents who live near some of the region’s most notable waterways but might never have boated on them.

Paddlers on a day trip with the conservation group Openlands exploring the Little Calumet River at Kickapoo Woods, part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County forest preserves.

Paddlers on a day trip with the conservation group Openlands exploring the Little Calumet River at Kickapoo Woods, part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County forest preserves.

Liina Raud/Openlands

The environmental group Openlands has teamed with other groups to use water trips to teach the region’s history. Recently, it organized an outing on the Little Calumet River, followed by a lunch at which speakers talked about the “African-American Heritage Water Trail” and the people and sites in the Calumet region that facilitated passage through the Underground Railroad during slavery.

Gliding on the water a few feet below ground level, through cities and suburbs, under bridges, through commercial strips and residential neighborhoods, paddlers say they feel transported to another world, quieter, less manic. They see four-foot-tall great blue herons nesting in huge piles of sticks high in leafless trees, red-tailed hawks circling and shrieking above and turtles sunning with outstretched necks on downed trees.

“The experiences I’ve had on that creek are just unreal,” says April Cole, 50, of Crystal Lake. “It’s the most beautiful and treasured thing to me in McHenry County. It’s an amazing creek. The wildlife is just gorgeous.”

WBEZ’s Zachary Nauth has more on Chicagoans’ growing interest in ‘river therapy’ here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What’s your favorite Chicago museum? Tell us why.

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s your essential summertime Chicago tradition?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Attending the Chosen Few Picnic & Festival! House Music all day long, right in its birthplace on the South Side. Just love, peace, great music, and thousands of cool people all jamming to the beat together. Had a great time this year after the pandemic hiatus.” —Lehia Franklin Acox

“Getting one or more Rainbow Cones.” —Valerie LaBerge

“Taking our pontoon on the Chicago River to see the beautiful architecture, Riverwalk and staying for the Art on the Mart show. And then you always gotta hit Lawrence’s for some jumbo coconut shrimp while we’re out there. Friends, family and our big beautiful city of big shoulders.” — Julie Gammicchia

“Picking up my camera and heading all over the city to snap photos of people enjoying life in Chicago.” —Chris Vaughn

“Jay’s Italian Beef Sandwich before a Cubs Game, Old Style at Wrigley, and D’agostino’s pizza afterward. Tremendous! The Holy Trinity on the Northwest side of Chicago.” —Robert Lisowski

“I like to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Air and Water Show. Always an amazing day.” —Mary Lou Meader

“Walking on the Lakefront north through the harbors.” —Harry S. Brinker III

“Getting Mario’s Italian Lemonade on a hot day.” —Angel A. Alicea

“I try to hit up a street fest every weekend. My absolute favorites are Roscoe Burger Fest and Wicker Park Fest.” — Misha Kieren

“Going to the Ohio Street Beach, swimming a mile on the wall, and having a bite/drink at Caffe Oliva! Nothing better!” — Maureen Gaffney

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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