2010 homicide rate lowest since 1965

January 4, 2011

by Robert Wildeboer

Download Story
(AP File/Charlie Rex)

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said there are two main factors contributing to the 45-year low in the number of homicides last year: technology and an improved relationship between police and residents.

Weis said technology allows police to focus on areas where data suggests crimes may occur. But he said residents provide the key information that not only solves crimes but can actually prevent them.

"We're slowly chipping away, just chip, chip, chip, chip at this code of silence and we're starting to see some positive results," he said.

Weis said the department is also working on accountability and professionalism.

"When people look at police officers they have to look at, there's someone I can go to, someone I can trust.  It should not be someone that they fear," he said.

The 435 murders in 2010 is the lowest number since 1965. In the 1970s, the yearly average was closer to 800. But Chicago still has a much higher murder rate than many other U.S. cities, including New York. Weis said there are too many variables to compare city to city.

Weis is touting Chicago's lower homicide numbers at a time when his future with the department is uncertain. His contract expires soon and Mayor Richard Daley, who appointed Weis, is retiring.