CHICAGO – Chicago experienced less deadly gun violence over the Labor Day weekend than last year after the police department flooded the streets with officers and made a concerted effort to arrest those most likely to be involved in violent crime, police said Tuesday.
Police said that the long weekend ended with seven homicides, compared to 13 during the same weekend last year. And after the 40 shooting incidents last year, police said there were 28 such incidents this year.
Chicago police have employed several tactics during holiday weekends this summer aimed at preventing shooting deaths following a terrible 2016, when the city recorded 762 homicides — Chicago's highest toll in more than two decades.
The department deployed an additional 1,300 officers, mostly to high-crime neighborhoods on the city's South and West sides. A similar number of officers was dispatched to the same areas during the long Memorial Day and July 4th weekends. The department also spent recent weeks on an undercover operation targeting drug and gun dealers that lead to 170 arrests, thus taking known criminals off the streets for the holiday weekend.
"These were individuals targeted based on information from the (police) districts to be part of gangs, known to be in gang conflicts or linked to or contributing to violence in those districts," said department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, adding that 90 of those arrested had felony convictions on their records.
The department also reported that officers seized 110 illegal guns. That haul included eight military assault weapons that were seized during the arrest of a man who tried to sell the guns to undercover officers.
Crime in Chicago has received widespread national attention, particularly after last year. This year, the department has launched various initiatives, including the installation of more street cameras and the expansion of gunshot detection systems, to stamp on the killings.
In the first seven months of the year, though, the number of homicides climbed slightly compared to the same period last year, while the number of shooting incidents dropped by about just under 14 percent. But Labor Day follows a particularly encouraging August for the department, which reported that both homicides and shooting incidents fell more than 45 percent compared to August 2016.