Official says Chicago violence was worse last year

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(CNN) — It was a bloody Father’s Day weekend in Chicago, but police said murder and shooting rates are significantly below those at the same time last year.

Seven people were shot to death and there were 26 “shooting incidents” from Friday to Sunday, according to the Chicago Police Department spokesman Adam Collins.

But to put it into perspective, Collins said, eight more people were shot on the same weekend last year. He said overall crime in Chicago is down 14%, the lowest since 1963.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy issued a statement regarding the weekend’s violence, saying that “while we’ve had fewer murders to date this year than any year since the mid-1960s, there’s more work to be done and whether it’s police, clergy, community organizations, parents or residents, we all have a role to play in continuing to reduce violence and no one will rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety.”

The department has been implementing a new plan to fight crime, and “we’ve come up with what I think is a groundbreaking way to do it,” McCarthy told CNN.

The plan centers around drug operations, a new gang database system, and more beat cops on the street.

“The same cops on the same street every day, and they know the kids who are coming from basketball practice and the kids that are standing on the street corner,” McCarthy said.

But the city has used more than 75% of its overtime budget, and despite the success, not everyone agrees this is the best way forward.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois announced a plan last month to arrest thousands of gang members — a plan that was called a “white boy solution” by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago.

Rush favors community development programs over heavy-handed justice.

“Both are necessary, not either-or, and the notion that its one or the other is wrong,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanueal.

Emanuel helped develop the overall crime strategy, which, along with the policing changes, includes pushing parents to step up, prevention programs and justice. He says despite the success there’s still some serious issues that need to be tackled.

“We still have a challenge where people know someone has committed a crime and are not reporting it,” he said. “The community has to be part of the solution to have it long term not momentary, to have it really ingrained to make a community safe.”