Chicago homicides dropped by nearly half in January and February over last year

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(CNN) — Homicides and shootings are on the decline in Chicago this year, police said Friday.

There have been 44 homicides to date, compared with 80 by this time last year, or a 44% decrease, Chicago police said in a statement. There have been 214 shootings so far in January and February, they said, compared with 282 in the first two months of last year. The number of shooting victims also has declined, with 253 in 2019, compared with 345 last year, police said.

February saw a 40% decline in homicides and a 7% reduction in shootings, compared with the same time period last year, officials said.

Chicago has been plagued with violent crime, and it has achieved unwanted attention for lawlessness, such as weekend crime sprees. But police said they have been making strides to address the problem.

“Crime data for February provides strong evidence that the Chicago Police Department is on the right path towards improving public safety,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said, pointing to the success of “building neighborhood partnerships,” beefing up manpower and deploying “new technology.”

The department cited outreach efforts by the Office of Community Policing to “work with victims of domestic violence” and “teens to emphasize prevention.” New officers have been added, and the department said it plans to hire more.

New technology is in place that abets quicker response time, which is improving “apprehension rates,” the department said

Police are using “live video feeds from security cameras throughout the district as well as gunshot detection systems that allow analysts to pinpoint the location of gunfire. This information is then fed directly to responding officers via mobile technology.”

Police also said robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts are “at their lowest levels since 2000.”

And the force reported strides in seizures of illegal guns.

Police seized more than 1,600 illegal guns so far this year, an increase of 6% compared with the same period last year.

“That’s one illegal gun taken off the street every 53 minutes,” police said.

Police captured more than 60 assault weapons this year, a 15% increase over 2018.

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