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