According to the Chicago Police Department, 2021 closed as one of the most violent years in the city’s history. An increase in shooting left more people dead than any single period in the last 25 years.
The Associated Press reports the department found 2021 ended with 797 homicides, 25 more than were recorded in 2020, 299 more than in 2019 and the most since 1996.
In 2021, 3,561 shooting incidents occurred, slightly greater by 300 than were recorded in 2020. This was also 1,415 more shooting incidents than what was recorded in the city in 2019.
Other cities have also seen an increase in the number of homicides. But Chicago, as it has in previous years, ended 2021 with more homicides than any other city in the United States, including New York and Los Angeles.
The department says it takes more illegal weapons off the street than any other local police force in the country. The CPD claims to have recovered a record 12,088 guns in 2021.
“Too many families are reeling from the loss of (loved) ones due to senseless gun violence, ” CPD Superintendent David Brown told reporters at a news conference earlier this week.
Despite the numbers from the Chicago police, figures released by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office differ with 836 homicides in 2021, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The newspaper cites statistics that show most of the violent crime was confined to a small number of neighborhoods. Out of 77 of Chicago’s community areas, 10 of them accounted for more than half of the killings. In the seven most violent police districts, the rate was 25 times higher than the rest of the city, the Sun-Times reported.
“We do have a gun violence crisis in Chicago, and it has always been hyper-concentrated in just a handful of neighborhoods,” Roseanna Ander, executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, told the Sun-Times. “The pandemic and all the knock-on effects of unemployment, business closures, disconnection … all of that exacerbated the situation and pulled the rug out from under neighborhoods that already faced a lack of access to resources.”
Brown, who says most of the homicides are the result of violence between rival gangs, said he hopes to increase the number of detectives investigating violent crimes from 1,100 to 1,300 during the first few months of this new year. He said his goal is to reduce the caseload for detectives from about five to three cases per detective.
He also said the department hopes to recruit more new officers this year, and said, “There will be more officers on the street, not just in patrol cars or behind desks, to interact with all Chicagoans.”