By Don Babwin
CHICAGO — The number of homicides in Chicago fell during the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, but the total number of people shot and the number of shooting incidents climbed, according to statistics released Tuesday by the police department.
The statistics offer a snapshot of what is happening in a city that has been the subject of widespread media attention since 2012 when it was the only city in the nation to record more than 500 homicides for the year.
With summer and an expected rise in crime, police have already implemented a key component of the overall strategy that was credited with helping bring down crime numbers last year: dispatching hundreds of police officers on overtime to high-crime neighborhoods. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is up for re-election in February, says reducing the city's crime rate is a priority.
"We will keep building on our strategy, putting more officers on the street in summer months, proactively intervening in gang conflicts, partnering with community leaders," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement.
According to the police, Chicago had 172 homicides through June 30 — nine fewer than the same period last year and 82 fewer than during the first six months of 2012. After the city recorded a total of 415 homicides last year, the six-month total puts Chicago within striking distance of recording fewer than 400 homicides for the year for the first time since 1965.
More troubling are statistics that show there have been dozens more shooting victims — which includes people injured and killed — and shooting incidents so far this year compared with the same period last year. The number of shooting incidents rose to 890 from 844 for the six-month period and the number of shooting victims climbed to 1,115 from 1,030.
The numbers so far this year in all those categories are far lower than they were for the same period of 2012, police said. A spike in violent crime that year prompted the department to launch a host of crime-fighting initiatives.
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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press