Chicago’s Murder Rate on Path to Be Lowest in Nearly 50 Years

Officials say that Chicago has benefited from policing techniques that have curbed violence in the nation’s third-largest city.

Posted: 12/13/2013 06:07 PM EST

While Chicago has remained in the news because of the widespread acts of gun violence, the city is positioned to record its lowest number of murders since 1965.

Police officials said that in the first 11 months of 2013, the city reported 380 murders, a steep decline from 474 in 2012. The rate of murders for the period from January to November is the lowest since 1965 and, if that pace continues through December, it would represent a dramatic decline.

Garry McCarthy, the city’s police superintendent, attributed the declining murder rate to enhanced policing techniques. He also said that the decline serves as a tribute to “the men and women of this police department.”

Will Burns, a Chicago alderman, echoed that perspective. “The superintendent and the police department are to be commended for the work they have done,” Burns said, in an interview with BET.com.

“They put more cops on in more areas that need their presence and the department has been very aggressive about going after the people who are responsible for keeping the murder rate high,” Burns said. “Those efforts have borne fruit.”

But Burns also said that they there remains a need for increased emphasis on a number of programs that he said would curb violence in Chicago.

“From my perspective, we have to change the structures that lead to the criminal violence in the first place,” Burns said. “Specifically, that means expanding early child education programs. It means we have to make sure we have quality recreation and after school programs.”

Burns added: “It also means we have to create jobs in Chicago and in urban centers around the country, where the unemployment rate for Black youth ages 16 to 24 is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. The best anti-violence program I’ve ever heard of is a job.”

Chicago’s level of gun violence has been a topic of national attention this year, particularly after the shooting in January of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honors student who was shot in a playground on the city’s South Side one week after performing in President Obama’s inauguration.

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 (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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