One month ago, we reported that CPD statistics showed reports of major crimes were up 24% in the first three weeks of the new year compared to the same time last year.
How have things improved since then? They haven’t. Major crime reports are now up 34%, with all seven categories showing increases: murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery, burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft. That’s according to CPD’s internal CompStat report dated February 20.
Crime reports this year are also ahead of the same point in 2020 and 2019, when COVID was not a factor.
But not everything is going up. The number of cops on the city’s police force is going down. Chicago lost 95 more officers in January, according to the city’s inspector general (OIG). CPD had 11,805 officers as of February 1. It started last year with 12,679 and had 13,353 in January 2019.
“Where are we gonna be in three years?” Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) asked on a recent networking Zoom call attended by former Chicago journalist Rafer Weigel. “It’s unsustainable.”
CPD “can’t recruit fast enough,” Hopkins reportedly said.
Last month, John O’Malley, the deputy mayor for public safety, delivered sobering news to a group of Lakeview residents.
“I can tell you there is a significant, almost alarming reduction in the number of police officers in the city of Chicago,” O’Malley said, pointing to retirements and “a very hard struggle right now to recruit and retain officers.”
“We have officers with 15 years on the job, 20 years on the job, walking into human resources in the Chicago Police Department, turning in their badges, and walking off the job. I’ve never seen that before. It’s happening.”
Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) echoed O’Malley’s concerns and suggested the quality of incoming officers may be lacking.
“There’s more retirements than recruits, and we’re diluting, in my opinion, the quality of people taking the [CPD hiring] exam and ultimately getting into the police department,” Tunney said.
CPD brass did move cops into some of the city’s most violent districts last month, but the increases were modest, according to the OIG’s data. For example, the city’s #1 district for murders and shootings last year added 28 cops in January, but it still has fewer cops than last spring.
Among the seven major crime categories, the most significant increase this year citywide has been in theft reports, up more than 700 cases or 64% so far. Motor vehicle theft reports, up by more than 500 cases or 45%, are at their highest level since at least 2018, according to the CPD report.
Other citywide increases: burglaries up 34%; aggravated battery up 15%; robbery up 7%; criminal sexual assault up 12%; and murder up 4% through February 20.
In the Central (1st) District, which includes the Loop, South Loop, Bronzeville, and Millennium and Grant Parks, overall major crime is up 158% compared to last year. It’s also up sharply in pre-COVID comparisons: up 44% versus 2020; 31% versus 2019; and up 15% compared to 2018.
All seven major crime categories are up: murders have tripled from one to three. Criminal sexual assaults are up from six to eleven. Robberies, up 67%, are at the highest level since 2018. Aggravated battery up 80%. Burglary up 144%.
Thefts are up 170% this year, bringing it in line with 2020, but still down from 2019 and 2018.
There have been a whopping 168 motor vehicle thefts in the district this year — up more than 250% compared to all four previous years on the CompStat report.
The other downtown police district, Near North (18th), is showing an 88% increase, with every category rising significantly compared to last year. The exception is murder, which is flat at zero. Total crime reports are flat compared to 2020 and down compared to this point in 2019 and 2018.
Motor vehicle thefts are up 60%, with 77 cases, the most of any year on the report. Criminal sexual assault cases are also at a high point, up 108% with 25 reports. Many of the district’s sexual assault reports are taken at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, but the crimes occurred elsewhere.
Here are links to PDFs of the February 20, 2022, CompStat reports for other police districts in our coverage area.
Town Hall (19th) – Fullerton/Lawrence/Chicago River/lake
Lincoln (20th) – Lawrence/Peterson/Chicago River/lake
Rogers Park (24th) – North of Peterson, east of the North Shore Channel
Shakespeare (14th) – Belmont/Division/Central Park/Chicago River
Near West (12th) – Roughly Division St to 21st St, Western Ave to the expressways
Albany Park (17th)– Belmont/Devon/Cicero/Chicago River
Jefferson Park (16th) – North of Belmont Ave, west of Cicero Ave