Chicago crime stats debated as magazine calls police claim of 'progress' an illusion

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy frequently insists that warm weather does not cause shootings. However,the last week’s temperatures support the notion that a break from the cold brings gun-toting gang members back to the streets.

Vendettas, which were on ice over the long brutal winter, are hot and fresh again.

Temperatures on Thursday nudged up into the 60s and eight people were shot, including a 12-year-old boy.

Last weekend, restaurant owners scrambled to set up their outdoor dining in the sunshine. At the same time, 36 were shot in 36 hours.

“We’re making progress but we need to do more,” McCarthy said.

However, an investigation published by Chicago Magazine claims that the “progress” is an illusion. The article says that under pressure from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago cops have been reclassifying murders and violent crimes. The result is a nearly unprecedented drop in numbers.

"This is a betrayal of public trust in a sense that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent Garry McCarthy are public servants. They are paid by our tax dollars and we deserve in return truth from them,” said Elizabeth Fenner, Editor in Chief of Chicago Magazine.

McCarthy responded that the article is “patently false” and he criticized the near total reliance on anonymous sources. “I'm troubled by it because it hurts our credibility while we're trying to build our credibility," he said.

McCarthy and Emanuel held a press conference Friday morning, announcing their response to the spike in gun battles was to increase bike patrols in the “impact zones” – cop speak for bad neighborhoods.

Once again, they both continued to insist the problem would not be solved without toughening up gun laws. “One of the things we also need to do is, obviously, change our gun laws to make sure that our strategy of more police on the street, kids, guns, and drugs off the street is as effective and coordinated as we can be,” Emanuel said.

McCarthy has insisted for a long time that laws need to toughen up on two points: discouraging third party or “straw” purchases in which a legal buyer acquires a gun for a felon, and keeping offenders from bouncing back to the street after serving just a fraction of their time.

“If you don’t go to jail for gun possession, you don’t learn not to carry a gun. If there’s no consequence for bad behavior, you don’t learn not to carry a gun,” he said.