Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis released crime statistics last Sunday showing a 2.3 percent decline in murders just as various community groups were preparing for a rally against youth violence, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Additionally, the stats show that criminal sexual assaults were down 9 percent, aggravated battery fell 7.7 percent and robberies dropped by double digits.
That's certainly encouraging for a city known nationwide for its rash of violent crimes. There were eight fewer murders this year than last year by this time and it's on pace with 2007's figures, in which the murder total was the lowest since 1965.
Overall crime in Chicago fell by 4.5 percent and was down for the 21st straight month in nearly every category; violent crime declined by more than 11 percent in September. That's great news if it's a trend but that doesn't mean there's any shortage of clients for Chicago criminal defense attorneys.
Jody Weiss said he was encouraged by the across-the-board declines but resisted resting on his laurels:
"I'm certainly not satisfied. Residents should not fear violence in their communities, and we refuse to accept violence as a way of life in any part of our city."
Rev. Michael Pfleger, the pastor of St. Sabina and a speaker at the "Silence the Violence" rally, struck a similar chord of guarded optimism:
"I don't want us to get excited because it's better. We get excited when it's over. I'm not going to be happy until the statistics are zero."
Mark Walsh of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence also spoke at the rally and said 3,000 children die from gun violence each year, while an additional 3,500 children are expelled annually for bringing guns to school.
Anti-violence group CeaseFire claims to have mediated 320 conflicts this year that could have become violent. CeaseFire member Tio Hardiman said the group is hoping to prevent violence by changing attitudes and behavior that often lead to gunfire.