With major crime reports up 41%, Chicago’s mayor says her crime plan is ‘working’

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sips tea in a “stay home, save lives” campaign video from early in the COVID pandemic. | City of Chicago

With major crime reports up 41% last year and Chicago police staffing down 12% since she became mayor, Lori Lightfoot says she has a public safety plan that’s working.

“We’re seeing steady improvements in public safety efforts,” Lightfoot tweeted on January 3. 

“Much more to do, but we are on the right path,” she said in another tweet on January 5.

“When it comes to addressing crime in our city, I’ve got a plan — and it’s working,” Lightfoot said in a tweet Tuesday morning that included her latest campaign ad.

In the spot, an unidentified man blames “haters” for the city’s crime perception problem. The mayor, says the man, “has got a plan. She’s putting more police on the streets and getting more guns off of them.”

In fact, 21 of Chicago’s 22 police districts have lost cops under Lightfoot’s administration, and reports of major crimes were up in all 22 districts last year compared to 2019, when she took office. Overall, CPD’s force strength has plummeted from 13,302 officers when Lightfoot took office to 11,731 this month, according to the Office of the Inspector General.

In fairness, when the guy in the TV ad said Lightfoot is “putting more police on the streets,” he may have been referring to the number of cops who protect the street where Lightfoot lives. While other units atrophied under her watch, the Detached Services Unit, which provides mayoral security, ballooned 177% from 56 officers to 155.

Otherwise, in districts from one end of the city to the other tell the same tale: Under the Lightfoot administration, the number of cops is down, and the amount of crime is up.

Throughout 2022, CPD and the mayor’s office played up talking points about hundreds of prospective new police officers being trained at the city’s police academy. Yet, despite the hype, and training efforts, the police department failed to keep up with attrition and experienced a net loss of 169 officers last year.

Citywide, major crime reports were up 33% compared to 2019, according to CPD’s data.

On New Year’s Day, the department issued a press release boasting that 2022’s crime rates were “down” compared to years dating back to 1965, when the city’s population was about 24% higher. Yet, in a footnote at the end of the press release, CPD included statistics that show overall crime was up last year compared to 2021, 2020, 2019, 2015, and 2014. According to the footnote, robberies were up compared to 2021, 2020, and 2019. Thefts and burglaries were up, too.

While the city did see a 14% reduction in murders last year, 2022 is still Chicago’s fourth-worst year for killings since the 1990s, behind 2021, 2020, and 2016. And CWB Chicago has learned that not all of last year’s murders have been properly classified by the police department.

On January 17 last year, 51-year-old California resident Sergio Ontiveros was battered outside a Wrigleyville bar. He fell during the attack, hit his head on the pavement, and died eight days later.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office declared his death a homicide due to craniocerebral injuries suffered in an assault. CPD continues to classify the case as an aggravated battery, not a murder. It’s impossible to know if other murder cases carry lesser classifications in CPD records.

During a year-end media tour, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown told the Chicago Tribune that, despite headlines, CTA crime has been lower than before the pandemic. Yet the Tribune itself reported on December 27 that violent crime on the CTA train system was still more than twice pre-pandemic levels.

On Tuesday morning, about the time Lightfoot’s new campaign ad debuted, the Chicago Police Department released its latest weekly crime statistics report. Through Sunday, overall major crime reports are up 72% compared to the same time last year.

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About CWBChicago 6871 Articles
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