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Despite murder spike, McCarthy says overall crime is down

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy news conference Monday  November 26 2012. l John H. White ~Sun-Times

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy, at news conference Monday, November 26, 2012. l John H. White ~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 26, 2012 8:44PM

Fighting back against what he sees as a media obsession with counting homicides this year, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy Monday said the city is enjoying the lowest crime rate in decades and may be on course to lead the nation in crime reduction.

“There is almost a mania, if you will, to report aggregate incidents, which may or may not be better than last year,” McCarthy told reporters at a news briefing at Chicago Police Headquarters.

But as of Sunday, there were 470 homicides in the city in 2012, compared with 394 during the same time period last year.

Despite the spike in homicides and shootings in early 2012, those numbers have been coming down in recent months, McCarthy said, crediting strategies that include arresting at least 5,000 more gang members this year than in 2011 and working with the city Department of Buildings to tear down 220 vacant buildings, which tend to attract gang members.

McCarthy said overall reported crime is down around 10 percent this year over last year.

McCarthy said he has been talking to friends in other big-city police departments around the country, and “It looks like we might be in a position where we actually are leading the nation in crime reduction.”

He said Chicago is definitely doing better with overall crime reduction than Los Angeles, New York City, Houston, Philadelphia and New Orleans.

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