CHICAGO – Police report gun violence is dropping this year in Chicago — but it was another bloody Memorial Day weekend in the city. Seven people were killed and 38 people were shot, according to Chicago police.
This year’s holiday weekend was slightly deadlier than last year, when six people were killed and 44 were shot, according to CPD.
In anticipation of the typical uptick in violent crime during warmer months, Chicago police launched a specialized summer mobile team, adding more than 1,000 officers to the streets.
Leading into Memorial Day, CPD also conducted raids in partnership with federal agencies. Chicago police say the raids resulted in at least 100 arrests and 46 guns recovered from the streets.
Still, Chicago’s Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said police only can do so much, and he continues to call for stricter sentencing and jail time.
“I won’t be happy until we have zero murders, and zero shootings. But there was some progress made, so I am happy about that,” Johnson said following the violent weekend.
Chicago police currently report 46 fewer murders year-to-date compared to the same time last year. CPD attributes the decrease to a focus on community policing and ShotSpotter technology — cameras and radar placed atop utility poles that instantly alert police to gunshots and allows them to track offenders in real-time using 30,000 cameras citywide.
The technology is credited with reducing shooting by 43 percent last year in Englewood — historically one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods on the south side.
Just before the Memorial Day weekend, President Donald Trump once again called out Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not putting a stop to the city’s murder rate — which is almost as much as New York and Los Angeles combined.
The president tweeted, in part, “The killings are at a record pace and tough police work, which Chicago will not allow, would bring things back to order fast ... the killings must stop!”
Emanuel’s spokesperson responded in a tweet, in part, “Chicago is a Trump-Free zone not a fact-free zone and we had a 21% drop in gun violence in 2017 and 21% drop in 2018.”
Emanuel and CPD’s superintendent successfully lobbied for a new bill that went into effect on January 1. It’s designed to give stronger sentences to repeat gun offenders.
“As a police executive, it’s frustrating for me and the cops out on the street, when we arrest these individuals for having illegal firearms, and then we see them back out the next week doing — guess what— carrying another illegal firearm,” Johnson said. “That’s a frustration for law enforcement all over this country.”