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Unexplained rise in police-involved shootings in recent weeks

Updated: October 14, 2012 1:51PM

An early Tuesday gun battle on the North Side is part of a sudden, unexplained rise in police-involved shootings in recent weeks, authorities said.

Tom Byrne, the Chicago Police Department’s chief of detectives, said he can’t explain the spike — which is happening in a year in which police-involved shootings have been trending downward.

But he said the shootings are a demonstration of aggressive policing.

“When people are in bed, these officers are stopping people with guns and getting in armed confrontations,” Byrne said. “These young officers are doing the right thing.”

Mike Shields, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he thinks criminals have become bolder because of a continuing police manpower shortage.

“They have no respect for authority and will pull a gun out to keep themselves out of prison,” Shields said.

Since the end of August, officers have shot six people in Chicago, police said.

So far this year, police have shot 30 people, compared to 46 over the same period of 2011.

In all of 2011, Chicago Police officers shot 60 people, compared to 43 in 2010, 57 in 2009 and 54 in 2008. Of those shot last year, 23 were killed, according to the Independent Police Review Authority.

No on-duty officers have been killed in shootings this year but a Chicago Police officer was recently wounded in the knee during a shootout with a teenage boy in the Morgan Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side.

The officer has undergone several surgeries to his leg, a police source said. The bullet had struck his knee but lodged in his calf, the source said.

The 15-year-old suspect was shot in the arm during the Aug. 29 shootout. He was treated at a hospital and taken into police custody.

In the North Side incident, officers exchanged gunfire with people in a car around 1:15 a.m. Tuesday in the 2200 block of West Barry in the Lake View neighborhood.

Uniformed officers in a marked squad car tried to stop a vehicle and were fired upon, authorities said. One or both of the officers in the squad car returned fire but no one was hit.

Police took three suspects into custody. None had been charged as of late Tuesday afternoon. The shooting happened in a gang-infested corner of the 19th police district, which is largely free of gang territory, according to a Chicago Crime Commission gang map.

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