The grim tally of 49 shot over Memorial Day weekend, historically one of the most violent times of the year here, is oddly the latest sign the city may be turning a corner in the fight against gun violence.
Five people were killed and 44 wounded in shootings between Friday evening and Monday night, an improvement over last year’s total of 7 killed and 61 injured.
The decrease highlights the slow progress police say they’ve made in the first five months of the year to reduce Chicago’s stubbornly high murder rate through technology that helps commanders better deploy street cops.
As of Tuesday morning, Chicago has recorded 235 murders so far this year, compared to 244 for the same time period in 2016. Shooting incidents have dropped more significantly to 1,047 compared to 1,222 last year, according to police department data.
Perhaps most notably, the largest drops in the number of shooting incidents have occurred in two of the city’s historically most violent districts where the department opened its first data-driven nerve centers in January. The centers use hyper-local video, sensors and other technology to help officers more quickly respond to shootings and help predict where the next incident might occur.
A West side district where the pilot program was deployed tallied 23 murders compared to 33 at the same point last year, and 112 shooting incidents compared to 182. In a South Side district that also uses the technology, the number of murders dropped to 21 from 27, while shooting incidents decreased to 83 from 116 compared to the same point last year, according to police.
“While that’s not a declaration of victory, it’s certainly progress in the right direction,” First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro Tuesday as he announced the opening of a third nerve center.
The vast majority of the 762 murders and more than 4000 shooting incidents in Chicago last year occurred in a few predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the city’s West and South Sides, and were driven by gang-related feuds and drug wars.
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SOURCE: USA Today, by Aamer Madhani