Amid media reports highlighting Chicago’s rise in homicides and shootings so far this year, police Superintendent Garry McCarthysaid Tuesday he is facing “a perception issue” when it comes to crime.
Speaking to the Union League Club in the Loop, McCarthy pointed to declines in homicides and shootings in recent weeks but said he’s having a hard time getting that message to register with the public.
“Would anybody believe me if I told you that murders in the city were down 17 percent in the last month? Probably not, right?,” McCarthy told about 100 people at the breakfast. “Would anybody believe me if I told you that shootings are down in the last two months, 10 weeks? Would anybody believe if I told you that we had less shootings on Memorial Day this year than we did last year? Probably not.
"We’re having a perception issue. And perhaps it’s my problem. Perhaps it’s my fault. I don’t know how to change this.”
McCarthy’s remarks come on the heels of a bloody weekend that ranked as among the worst so far this year with 53 shot, nine of them fatally, according to a Tribune analysis. Through Sunday, 223 people were slain in Chicago, up 36 percent from the same period last year, according to the department. In that same period, there have been 967 shootings, an increase of 11 percent from a year earlier, the department said..
McCarthy, however, focused on recent improvements in the homicide and shooting numbers, crediting citywide “gang audit” in which the specialized gang units share and update their intelligence with patrol officers. He said that fixing the "unacceptable level of violence" in Chicago is a complicated process, noting the crime numbers over the last month are way better than when the department closed out the first quarter of the year.
“There’s not one police leader in this country who wouldn’t be ecstatic with a 17 percent reduction in homicides over a 28-day period, a reduction in shootings in nine of the last 10 weeks, a reduction in virtually every crime category,” McCarthy said “We’re down 10 percent in reported crime in this city. And it doesn’t get out there.”Copyright © 2015, RedEye