In Chicago, killings way down, police OT way up

Posted: March 21, 2013

CHICAGO - Hundreds of city police officers are hitting the streets on overtime every night in dangerous neighborhoods, the latest tactic by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration to reduce killings in a city dogged by its homicide rate and by heartbreaking stories about honor students and small children caught in the cross-fire.

The decision by Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy last month to put small armies of officers working overtime in specific "hot zones" corresponds with a notable drop in homicides in the nation's third-largest city in February and March. But the latest "Violence Reduction Initiative" raises concerns about whether the policy is sustainable for the financially struggling city and whether it could further strain officers working long hours at a stressful and dangerous job.

If it continues, the tactic would cost millions of dollars each month - putting the one initiative on pace to exceed the department's entire overtime budget by fall.

McCarthy is careful not to say the increased patrols directly caused the drop in a homicide rate that climbed past the 500 mark last year and spiked again in January higher than 40 for the first time in more than a decade.

The city recorded 14 homicides last month, half the number from February 2012 and the lowest monthly total since the 12 homicides in January 1957, McCarthy said. That trend has continued, with the number of homicides between Feb. 1 and March 19 totaling 23 compared to 57 for the same period last year.

|
|
|
|
|