Chicago Sees Deadliest January in at Least 16 Years

Homicides hit 51, a number more typically seen in the summer months
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2016 2:25 PM CST
An aerial view at night of Chicago skyline is seen Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(Newser) – A father of three shot dead as he left a New Year's Eve party is just one of 51 people killed in Chicago this month in the deadliest January the city has seen since at least 2000, the earliest year for which public statistics are available. The number of homicides (which includes three beating and stabbing deaths) is similar to what's typically seen during the summer, when violence peaks, and the total number of people shot in January—242, per the AP— was more than twice that of last January. The last year Chicago saw more than 500 homicides was 2012, and the number of shootings this January was almost 60% higher than that seen in January 2012. But, the Chicago Tribune notes, that's still a far cry from "decades ago when homicides sometimes exceeded 900 in a year."

Even more depressing: Chicago continues to see more violence than the more populous cities of New York and Los Angeles, and interim police superintendent John Escalante concedes the city was "literally alone" in its high January violence even though other major US cities saw violence increase last year. He acknowledges police activity and "street stops" are down this year, which may be due to Chicago police officers' concerns about being criticized, particularly in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting: Officers don't want "to be the next viral video," Escalante says. "Even when they're doing something right, it may not be perceived that way." But, as USA Today reports, the police department has been "pushing back" against the idea that decreased police activity is the cause of the increase in homicides. (News like this doesn't help the way some officers are perceived.)

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