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Chicago Murder Rate Drops, But Not In All Neighborhoods

In 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump made Chicago the face of urban violence. The city was on its way to its highest murder total in two decades, and Trump was not shy about taking to Twitter to highlight days when dozens of people were shot.

In 2017, Chicago Police reported a 15 percent decrease in murders — though there were still more than 650 killings. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson cited new tactics and improved technology, among other things, for the decline.

But the 2017 totals don’t tell the whole story. Chicago is still trending in the wrong direction compared to the past two decades, when the city often reported fewer than 500 killings. Furthermore, not every community saw improvements this year.

Here’s a look at two communities that are emblematic of the city’s ongoing struggle with violence.

New City

The most dramatic drop among areas with at least 20 killings last year came in the New City community, which includes the Back of the Yards and Canaryville neighborhoods, where murders decreased from 42 to 18.

Craig Chico of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council said the drop in murders is important for community morale.

But even with the drastic decrease, New City still had more murders in 2017 than in 2015.

North Lawndale

One place that didn’t see any improvement was North Lawndale on the city’s West Side. That community saw 40 murders this year — an increase of more than 20 percent.

And 2017 wasn’t an anomaly. Murders have almost quadrupled in North Lawndale over the last four years.

Rev. Marshall Hatch of the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church said the West Side has “intense deprivation where people are really just in survival mode.”

“Even though the overall numbers are down … people are still dealing with a disproportionate share of the violence,” he said.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi did not answer questions specifically about North Lawndale, but said via email that police “still have a lot of work to do to further reduce violence.”

Patrick Smith is a WBEZ criminal justice reporter. Follow him on Twitter at @pksmid. Natalie Moore is WBEZ’s South Side reporter. You can follow her on Twitter at @natalieymoore.

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