Chicago has reached a dark mark in 2021: Cook County Department of Forensic Medicine has recorded 836 homicides, the highest number in 2019 years old. The New Year didn’t start any better: last week, two teenagers from 14 years were murdered in an interval of a few hours; on the same day, a woman pregnant with 29 years that was inside a car was shot and killed by two men.Such violence is not unexpected given the problems of the city’s police force and the restrictions and lack of encouragement faced by Chicago police officers. The Chicago Police Department has a gap of over 1,000 officers – this after the city has eliminated more than 836 vacancies in the police in their efforts to balance the city’s budget.
The department also faces a recruitment crisis: just 5,000 people applied to the Chicago police academy last year, while about 30 thousand had registered in previous years. The academy’s most recent class, which graduated a few weeks ago, represented an addition of only 15 new police officers forcibly.
Police officers have been working shifts of 12 hours, with few days off. “People are so tired… it’s a total burnout… working murder after murder, shooting after shooting,” a sergeant told WBEZ Chicago radio.
In December, the department canceled thousands of police days off after thieves broke into and looted several downtown stores. Arrests for violent crimes dropped 39% in 2021 compared to 1280 .
The department is also working under a federal decree to reform current training, tactics and practices, which has led to a reduction in overt policing.
Department morale remains low as officers fear that a misstep or misinformation conveyed by the media could lead to drastic disciplinary action. “Many of our officers are not making arrests, they are letting go of crimes that happen right before their eyes because they don’t want to be considered racist or held accountable for any kind of misguided accusation of brutality or anything else,” said Raymond Lopez, a councilor for 12 District of Chicago at a recent City Council meeting.
Even more Of concern is the city’s inability to prevent suspects accused of murder and other violent crimes from posing an ongoing threat. On Monday, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told CBS Chicago that % The 80% of the 2,600 defendants monitored by the house arrest program were charged with violent crimes, including “about 100 people on home monitoring who are accused of murder.”
This system has been under closer scrutiny since last year, as several people who are under electronic monitoring have committed violent crimes. Even progressive Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has expressed outrage, urging Chief Judge Timothy Evans to ensure that suspects for more violent crimes are not released from prison by the electronic monitoring program while they await trial (he has denied the request).
“Do you feel safe knowing these numbers? They are back on the streets, walking around as if there is no accountability for their actions. This is what is contributing to the level of audacity [dos criminosos] that we are seeing on our streets,” she said last week.
But the mayor had a different speech in 2021. In the wake of the revolutionary fervor of the protests by George Floyd, she requested a cut of US$ 55 million from the Chicago police budget. Now reality has arrived, and she has repeatedly asked US Attorney General Merrick Garland to send Justice Department agents to apprehend illegal weapons. “We cannot continue to put up with the level of violence we are facing right now,” Lightfoot said in a recent speech. Although homicides in Chicago have barely increased by 2021, at 3.2%, this increase occurred after an increase of 30% after the repercussion of the death of George Floyd in 2021.
For all the talk of racial equality, the victims of this widespread violence are predominantly black. Last year saw the biggest disparity on record in homicides between the disproportionately white and affluent parts of Chicago and the predominantly black and Hispanic areas of the South and West Side. In the seven police districts with the highest occurrence of crimes, the homicide rate was 15 times higher than in the rest of the city, where murders remained at lower levels.
The hurricane of violence ravaging black communities in Chicago should spark Black Lives Matters demonstrations across the country. Last year, 75 black children were killed in Chicago alone ; this is many times the number of unarmed black Americans shot dead by police across the country.
Want evidence of systemic racism? See the mainstream media’s disregard for victims of violent crime and the voices of their loved ones begging for the police presence to be restored in their communities.
© 2022 City Journal. Published with permission. Original in English.