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Number of Chicago homicides plummets in February

Updated: April 2, 2013 6:32AM

After the bloodiest January in the city in a decade — coming on the heels of a particularly violent 2012 — the killings slowed to a relative trickle in February.

The month ended with 14 homicides, according to Chicago Sun-Times statistics, half the number reported by Chicago Police in February 2012. Of those killed, 11 were shot and three stabbed.

The dip comes at a time of increasing pressure on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Supt. Garry McCarthy to end the bloodbath on Chicago streets.

“It’s worthy of consideration; we should note it,” Art Lurigio, a criminologist at Loyola University, said of the February numbers. “But at the same time, it’s really the year we should be paying attention to because statistics fluctuate for a variety of reasons.”

Lurigio said those reasons may well include stepped-up police efforts to tackle homicides, but the drop in murders last month might also have to do with the national spotlight aimed at Chicago, following the slaying of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in January less than a mile from President Barack Obama’s Kenwood mansion.

It’s possible Obama’s presence and the relatively quick arrest and filing of charges in that case gave some would-be killers pause, Lurigio said.

“When was the last time a president of the United States came into a city to talk about the murder rate?” Lurigio said. “When was the last time the death of a young person was given so much media attention?”

Hadiya’s murder ended the city’s most deadly January in a decade — with 43 homicides — following a 16 percent jump in homicides in 2012.

Chicago Police declined to comment about February’s statistics.

In recent days, McCarthy has said he is continually refining crime strategies, which has included shifting 200 police officers from desk jobs to street duty.

Contributing: Mitch Dudek

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