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Police: City murders down by 42 percent for first four months

File Photo. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times

File Photo. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 2, 2013 8:58PM

Chicago’s troubling murder stats appear to be headed the right way.

Spring was particularly bloody in Chicago last year with a 60 percent spike in murders and a rise in nonfatal shootings over the previous year. This year, though, violent crime is trending in the other direction.

On Tuesday evening, the Chicago Police Department released figures showing a 42 percent decline in murders between January and the end of April, compared to the same period of 2012.

It will be the first time the department reported fewer than 100 murders for the first four months of the year since 1963, officials said.

There have been 93 murders this year compared to 161 over the same period last year, according to the department. Nonfatal shootings were down 27 percent over the first four months of 2013.

“Through our work with the community, our comprehensive policing strategy and the hard work of our officers, we are continuing to make progress in reducing crime in Chicago,” said Supt. Garry McCarthy.

Under McCarthy, officers have been moved from administrative jobs and citywide strike forces to beat patrols to put them in closer daily contact with residents. Hundreds of other cops have been assigned to “area saturation teams” that cover five to nine districts each but don’t roam the city like the old strike forces.

Also in recent months, McCarthy has offered overtime to hundreds of additional cops to work in the toughest neighborhoods on their days off. District commanders have been given more authority to devise crime-fighting strategies and gang intelligence is better, according to department officials.

The anti-violence group CeaseFire also is seeking credit for the reductions in violence. CeaseFire, which won a $1 million deal with the city last year to “interrupt” shootings, said murders are down in the areas covered by its contract. In a letter posted earlier this week on Huffington Post, CeaseFire Chicago Director Tio Hardiman said: “What if Chicago could go several days and months without one homicide? This may be wishful thinking but anything is possible.”

Some point to differences in the weather as a major factor in this year’s lower murder totals. More people were outside — where most shootings happen — in the early months of 2012 when record temperatures were posted. The first four months of this year were much cooler.

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