Chicago killings and shootings drop for 14th consecutive month

Chicago’s decline in killings and shootings continued for the 14th consecutive month, according to crime figures released Tuesday.

It’s a remarkable drop in a city long plagued by gun violence. In the month of April, there were 29% fewer shootings and 21% fewer killings — decreases authorities attribute to the hiring of more officers, stronger community policing efforts and investments in technology, such as gunshot detection systems and predictive crime software to help deploy officers.

“The third piece, and I tell you, it just can’t be understated, is that fact that the community has now re-engaged with the police department and are helping us to reduce the violence,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told CNN affiliate WLS TV on Tuesday.

The city had 173 shootings last month, compared to 245 in April of 2017, police said. The number of murders in April dropped from 48 in 2017 to 37 last month.

With the technology now active in nearly half of Chicago’s police districts, officials in the nation’s third largest city said murders are down 22% and shootings nearly 27% year-to-date, compared to the same period in 2017.

While acknowledging the city still has a long way to go in combating an epidemic of violence that has garnered unwanted national attention, police officials remain hopeful that their strategies have started to pay dividends in the past year.

Chicago saw a 16% drop in murders from 2016 — the deadliest year in nearly two decades, with the city recording 771 murders — to 2017, when there were 650 murders.

All categories of major crimes, including robberies and auto thefts, are also down, officials said.

Year-to-date, robberies and auto thefts have declined 14%, and overall crime is down 12% throughout the city, according to police.

President Donald Trump has criticized Chicago’s crime rate, sometimes taking to Twitter to blast what he calls the failure to fight gun violence there. Trump has also sent federal authorities to the city to help fight crime.

Year-to-date, Chicago police have recovered 2,500 illegal guns, according to the department.

Officials said the police department is embarking this month on reforms intended to build stronger community partnerships and engagement with residents, who have long been mistrustful of the police. The department is also rolling out new “license plate reader technology” in five new patrol vehicles as part of the effort to stop carjackings and recover stolen vehicles.

In April, officials said, 108 new officers were deployed throughout the city. They are in addition to the more than 1,000 new officers hired since 2017.