Chicago Democrats tight-lipped on plan to address lowest number of arrests in 20 years amid surging crime

Chicago is on track for more than 600 homicides this year

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Elected Democrats in Chicago remained silent when asked by Fox News Digital how they planned on addressing plummeting arrest numbers and police morale in the city while crime has surged since 2020.

Chicago police made arrests in 12% of crime cases in 2021, the lowest rate since 2001, as sweeping changes have been made in recent years as to how the department patrols the streets, including restricting their vehicle pursuit policy and ending foot pursuits if a suspect runs from an officer or if someone commits a minor offense. 

Fox News Digital reached out multiple times to the offices of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for comment on how they plan to address the drop in arrests and low police morale but did not receive a response by press time.

Chicago has been rocked by crime in recent years. Homicides skyrocketed in the city in 2020, following a drop in violence for the three previous years. The Windy City recorded nearly 770 homicides in 2020, up 50% compared to 2019. Last year, the city broke a 25-year record when it surpassed 800 homicides, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a press conference at City Hall, Dec. 21, 2021.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a press conference at City Hall, Dec. 21, 2021. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune via AP)

So far this year, shootings and killings for the first half of 2022 are down roughly 17% and 10%, respectively. However, the city is still on pace to break the 600-homicide benchmark by the end of the year, WTTW reported this month.

The number of traffic stops and tickets have also dropped, and the number of investigative stops fell by more than 50% between 2019 and 2021. Additionally, the Chicago-Sun Times analysis showed that fewer crimes are being reported to police by residents and officers on the streets.

"I’m not shocked that our Governor, Mayor and States Attorney refuse to comment," Alderman Anthony Napolitano of Chicago’s 41st Ward, told Fox News Digital. "Their policies have led to the increase in crime and decrease of arrests."

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Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker greets spectators during the Chicago Pride Parade, June 26, 2022.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker greets spectators during the Chicago Pride Parade, June 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Durr)

"Just look at the State of Illinois’ recently passed crime bill ‘The Safe-T-Act’, or the Chicago Police Department’s most recent policy regarding chasing criminals on foot, and don’t forget the States Attorney’s track record on lowering Felony offenses to Misdemeanors and putting criminals back on the street within hours," Napolitano continued. "It’s all disgusting."

Napolitano added that the situation in Chicago represents a "political strategy" motivated by the socialist wing of the Democratic Party

"The Socialists are implementing policies that handcuff our police officers and restrict them from doing their job," Napolitano said. "Then, when crime gets out of control they blame the police. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, this is a new script for defunding the police. The end goal is to destroy our police departments and implement their own."

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at a news conference, in Chicago, Feb. 22, 2019.

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at a news conference, in Chicago, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

In addition to the rising crime, lenient sentencing policies that often result in violent criminals being released back onto the streets have resulted in police officers thinking twice before arresting certain criminals.

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A Chicago police officer told the Chicago Sun-Times last week that officers hesitate interacting with "criminals with guns" due to prosecutors having a tighter grip on approving felony charges against criminals. 

"In the past, I might see a guy with a gun in his waistband, and I’d jump out and chase him," an officer told the outlet. "No way I’d do that now."

Retired Chicago Police Department Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy told Fox News Digital last week that morale in the department is low in part due to officers believing that elected officials don’t have their back.

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"There’s a fear among police officers that if they do the right thing, politics or other considerations, racial considerations might come into play and they might end up getting jammed, fired, criminally charged for doing the right thing," Roy said.

Fox News' Emma Colton contributed to this report.