Oops! CPD claims violent crime is down 3% this year (it’s actually UP 13%)

Screenshot of an ABC7 report that quotes CPD’s incorrect claim of a reduction in violent crime. | ABC7

For the second month in a row, the Chicago Police Department issued a press release Sunday that claims violent crime is down 3% in the city this year. It’s not.

“Chicago’s overall violent crime, which includes murders, robberies, burglaries, thefts, and motor vehicle thefts, fell by 3% compared to the same time last year,” said the PR piece, released minutes after midnight on March 1.

That’s nearly identical language to the statement released by police minutes after midnight on Feb. 1: “Overall violent crime, which includes murders, robberies, burglaries, thefts, and motor vehicle thefts, fell by 3% in January, compared to January 2019.”

But there’s a problem: Violent crime in Chicago is actually up 13% this year.

Across the country, crime statistics are organized by a system established by the FBI in 1929. Generally speaking, the bureau considers four crimes to be “violent” — murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Burglaries, thefts, and motor vehicle thefts, which CPD inexplicably lumped into its “violent crime” category for the past two months are not violent.

The Sun-Times gave CPD’s erroneous press release a modest re-write before publication. | Sun-Times

Contacted by email on Sunday morning, the CPD’s chief spokesperson agreed, “we should say overall crime.”

NBC5 also published the Sun-Times story that reported CPD’s violent crime data as fact. | NBC5

In fact, through Feb. 20, violent crime in Chicago was up 13% compared to last year. This year’s violent crime count is also higher than in 2014 and 2015, but it’s well behind the 10-year high seen in 2017.

But, even before the sun rose on Sunday, CPD’s “3% reduction” press release was being reported as fact in the media.

We’ll be anxiously anticipating the police department’s April 1 press release. 

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com