With 3 1/2 months left in 2020, Chicago has already surpassed 2019's total amount of homicides. The latest crime stats out of Chicago are alarming, with murders and shootings spiking more than 50%.
As of Sept. 14, Cook County medical examiner's office recorded its 677th homicide of 2020, eclipsing last year's total of 675, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Cook County, the second-most populated county in the nation with about 5.1 million residents, is on track to have more than 900 homicides this year, an eye-opening figure that hasn't been seen in decades.
This extreme level of violence hasn't been experienced in Chicago since the 1990s. In 2016, 762 people were murdered, an increase of 58% from 2015. There were 1,141 homicides in 1994, 855 in 1993, 943 in 1992, 928 in 1991, according to the Chicago Police Department.
Shootings were the cause of 86% of Chicago's murders this year. Shootings also increased by 52% compared to 2019 statistics. Making the dire situation even more heartbreaking is that dozens of children have been shot. As of Aug. 3, there have been 38 juveniles who were shot and killed in Chicago.
Chicago suffered one of its worst mass shootings in recent times in July when 15 people were shot at a funeral on the city's South Side.
Despite the summer ending, the violence has not slowed down. Last weekend, 54 people were shot and 12 killed. As of Sept. 14, there were over 2,200 shootings; at the same time in 2019, there were 1,400 shootings.
The Cook County medical examiner's office stated that blacks made up 79% of 2020's homicide deaths, and 16% of the victims were Latino.
On Monday, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown expressed frustration that some of the criminals who were arrested over the Labor Day weekend had committed multiple felonies in the past.
"Violent offenders need to spend more time in jail in this city," Brown said. "They need to be held more accountable."
Brown noted that Chicago police had recovered over 7,400 guns, which is more than law enforcement have recovered in New York City and Los Angeles combined, according to USA Today.
Brown also pointed out that there is an increase in police officers being shot. He said that 55 Chicago police officers had been shot at in 2020, and 10 cops have been shot.
"There's not a comparable year. That's five times any previous year anyone can recall," Brown said of the police being shot. "We're risking everything."
On Sept. 9, Attorney General William Barr said that Operation Legend, a new law enforcement initiative against violent crime that partners federal agents with state and local police, has cut Chicago's homicide rate "in half."
"I am pleased to report that Operation Legend is working. Crime is down, and order is being restored to this great American city," Barr said during a news conference.
"The results of those actions speak for themselves," Barr said. "Over the first five weeks of Operation Legend in Chicago, murders dropped by 50% over the previous five weeks. August ultimately saw a 45% decrease in murders compared to July, and a 35% decrease compared to June."
Since July 22, the federal government has assigned 400 agents to Chicago in an effort to curb violent crime. The operation also granted more than $10 million to the Chicago Police Department to hire more officers and provide more technologically advanced equipment.
"Across 20 major cities, the murder rate at the end of June was on average 37% higher than it was at the end of May, according to Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis," The New York Times reported. Last year's increase for the same time period was 6%.
New York City has also endured a significant increase in violent crimes. In August, shootings more than doubled compared to 2019, and murders increased by nearly 50%, according to The New York Times.
"Since May, the city has recorded 791 shootings, a more than 140% increase over the same period in 2019. The 180 murders seen between May and August is a more than 51% increase compared to 2019," The New York Times reports.
Many factors could be increasing gun violence in the U.S., such as higher unemployment, civil unrest stemming from social justice protests, and the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.