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Chicago Homicides Fall 16% in 2017

Chicago Homicides Fall 16% in 2017

Chicago ended 2017 with fewer homicides than the year before, but gang violence in the city's most risky neighborhoods kept the total number of killings above the 600 mark for only the second time in more than a decade.

Chicago, which in 2016 suffered through its deadliest year in two decades with 754 killings, saw its murder total drop last year to 650, the largest year-to-year decline since 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Shootings in Chicago exceeded 3,500 in 2017, down from more than 4,300 in 2016 but up from more than 2,900 in 2015.

The department believes their smart policing strategy and hiring more officers to the force, among other things, helped to drive the homicide and shootings down across the city.

"There's still a lot of work ahead of us, but we're heading in the right direction", Chicago Tribune quoted Johnson as saying. The number of yearly homicides in Chicago had hovered between 400 and just about 500, between 2007 and 2015.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly castigated Chicago authorities for letting violence run "out of control".

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Police attribute the decline to more than eleven-hundred new police officers, changes in policy and investments in technology like body cameras.

Johnson said the reduction has sparked hope in some neighborhoods, and he credited the decrease to community engagement and data-driven policing. Those districts were the first to be equipped with Strategic Decision Support Centers, which are outfitted with ShotSpotter devices and staffed with data-minded police officers and analysts from the University of Chicago's Crime Lab.

Crime fell by 43 percent in Englewood district and 26 percent in Harrison, the first two districts to employ so-called Strategic Decision Support Centers, police said.

For the second straight year, Chicago also tallied more murders than New York City and Los Angeles combined. Atlanta, Washington, Oakland, Memphis and Kansas City, for instance, all have higher violent crime rates. The bad news is that the number was still quite high, reaching about 670 murders.

The department hired more than 1,100 new officers and made over 580 new promotions in 2017, the report said.

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