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Chicago Security & Crime

Murders in the city peaked first in 1974, with 970 murders when the city's population was over three million people (resulting in a murder rate of around 29 per 100,000), and again in 1992 with 943 murders, resulting in a murder rate of 34 per 100,000. After adopting crime-fighting techniques recommended by Los Angeles and New York City Police Departments in 2004, Chicago recorded 448 homicides, the lowest total since 1965 (15.65 per 100,000).

Chicago's homicide tally increased slightly in 2005 and 2006 to 450 and 467, respectively, though the overall crime rate in 2006 continued the downward trend that has taken place since the early 1990s, with 2.5% fewer violent crimes and 2.4% fewer property crimes compared to 2005. According to the 2005 Homicide Report by the Chicago Police Department, the murder clearance rate (in terms of an arrest being made within two years of the homicide) has dropped from over 70% for 1991 to under 60% for 2003. Summer months have significantly higher murder rates, and over 70% of murders take place between 7 pm and 5 am. The percentage of murder offenders being between 14 and 16 years old has declined from a 1994 high of approximately 15% to approximately 6% in 2005.

In 2005, 75% of murders involved a firearm, and 11% were the result of a stabbing. 41% of domestic murders were stabbings. 10% of murders in 2005 (39) were the result of an armed robbery, 9% were of undetermined cause, and at least 30% were gang altercations. Over 40% of victims and 60% of offenders were between the ages of 17 and 25. 85% of victims and 93% of offenders were male. 76% of victims were African American (77.4% of offenders were), 18.3% were Hispanic (17.3% of offenders), and 5.6% were white (5.3% of offenders). The African American murder victimisation rate was approximately 34 per 100,000; the Hispanic rate being 11 per 100,000; and the white rate being 3 per 100,000. Over 75% of victims and 88% of offenders had a prior arrest history. 11% of armed robbery victims were female, 50% of domestic victims were female, and 7% of gang related victims were female. 31% of armed robbery victims were over 45 years old. 29% of domestic related murders were committed by women. A disproportionately high amount of robbery related murders involved African American offenders murdering Hispanics and whites. From 1991 to 2005, 19.2% of armed robbery murder victims were White, and only 4.3% of armed robber murder offenders were White. Chicago's homicide tally remained steady in 2007 with 435, and in 2008, there were 510 homicides.

Chicago has been among the first US cities to build an integrated emergency response centre to coordinate the city's response to natural disasters, gang violence, or terrorist attacks. Built in 1995, the centre is integrated with more than 2000 cameras, communications with all levels of city government, and a direct link to the National Counterterrorism Center. Police credited surveillance cameras with contributing to decreased crime in 2004.

Recently installed anti-crime cameras are capable of pinpointing gunshot sounds, calculating where the shots were fired, and pointing and zooming the cameras in the direction of the shots within a two block radius. Since surveillance cameras have been placed in high crime areas, some Chicagoans feel uneasy about being so closely watched, but others believe their street are safer. The cameras have prompted some calls of discrimination since they have been placed in areas of gang activity and high gun violence, that also are chiefly occupied by Black and Latino communities.

Because the Chicago Police Department tallies data differently than other cities, the FBI often does not accept its crime statistics. The Chicago Police record all criminal sexual assaults, as opposed to only rape. They count aggravated battery together with the standard category of aggravated assault. As a result, Chicago is often omitted from studies such as Morgan Quitno's annual "Safest/Most Dangerous City" survey, which relies on FBI collected data.

The Chicago Police Department developed CLEARMAP to provide residents of the City of Chicago with a tool to assist them in problem-solving and combating crime and disorder in their neighbourhoods. It is based upon the CLEAR (Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting) system developed by the Department for use by its police officers. This web application enables citizens to search the Chicago Police Department's database of reported crime. Individuals will be able to see maps, graphs and tables of reported crime. The database contains 90 days of information which can be accessed in blocks of up to 14 days. Data is refreshed daily.





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