Chicago records more homicides in 2016 than New York and LA combined
Trump tells Mayor Rahm Emanuel to seek federal help after city’s most violent year in two decades saw 762 killings and 1,100 more shooting incidents than 2015
By Edward Helmore
Jan 2 2017
Donald Trump waded into the debate over Chicago’s soaring rates of murder and gun crime on Monday, telling the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to seek federal help if he is unable to find a solution.
The president-elected tweeted: “Chicago murder rate is record setting – 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!”
Emanuel, who was Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, did not immediately respond.
Trump’s intervention came as Chicago recorded the highest annual number of homicides in more than two decades.
A total of 762 homicides were recorded in the city in 2016 – more than the figures for New York and Los Angeles combined.
Trump’s comments came hours after Chicago’s gun violence epidemic made national news in a CBS 60 Minutes segment titled “Crisis in Chicago”, about a six-day period in which there were 55 shooting victims. Sixteen died from their wounds.
The nation’s third-largest city also saw 1,100 more shooting incidents last year than it did in 2015, according to data released on Sunday by the Chicago police department.
Records kept by the Chicago Tribune put the 2016 tally at 781 homicides. The discrepancy with the Chicago police department’s figure of 762 derives from an accounting methods anomaly – the CPD does not include homicides on area expressways, police-involved shootings, other homicides in which a person was killed in self-defense, or death investigations.
The statistics underline a story of bloodshed that has put Chicago at the center of a national dialogue about gun violence.
The numbers are staggering, even for those who followed the steady news accounts of weekends ending with dozens of shootings and monthly death tolls that hadn’t been seen in years. The increase in homicides compared to 2015, when 485 were reported, is the largest spike in 60 years.
Police and city officials have lamented the flood of illegal guns into the city, and the crime statistics appeared to support their claims: police recovered 8,300 illegal guns in 2016, a 20% increase from the previous year.
Chicago’s police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, said during a news conference on Sunday that Chicago is among many US cities that have seen a spike in violence, including in attacks on police. He said anger at police, including in the wake of video released that showed a white Chicago officer shooting a black teenager 16 times, has left criminals “emboldened” to violent crimes.
He also said it was becoming clearer to criminals that they had little to fear from the criminal justice system.
“In Chicago, we just don’t have a deterrent to pick up a gun,” he said. “Any time a guy stealing a loaf of bread spends more time pre-trial in jail than a gun offender, something is wrong.”
Johnson, who has for months complained about Illinois’ lax gun laws, said he thinks more and more gang members are arming themselves because the price for being caught is small compared to other large cities. He said gang members he had spoken to consider the court system “a joke”.