The city’s drop in crime has been nothing short of miraculous. Here’s what’s behind the unbelievable numbers.
Meanwhile, the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil pols on Chicago’s City Council have mostly accepted the police department’s crime numbers at face value. So have most in the media. You can hardly turn on the news without hearing McCarthy or Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaiming unquestioned: Murders down 18 percent in 2013! Overall crime down 23 percent! Twelve thousand fewer crime victims! “These days, everything is about media and public opinion,” says one longtime officer. “If a number makes people feel safe, then why not give it to them?”
Human beings who have been murdered are reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents. For Political Reasons.
If you want proof of the police department’s obsession with crime statistics, look no further than the last few days of 2012. On the night of December 27, a 40-year-old alleged gang member named Nathaniel Jackson was shot in the head and killed in Austin. The next morning, newscasters proclaimed that Chicago’s murder toll for the year had hit 500—a grim milestone last reached in 2008, during the Great Recession.
By lunchtime, the police department’s spinmeisters at 35th and Michigan had challenged the reports. The actual total, they said, was 499. A murder case earlier in the year had just been reclassified as a death investigation.
Critics howled. The bloggers behind Second City Cop declared: “It’s a miracle! The dead have risen!!!”
And then they register to vote. Chicago, it’s that kind of town.