Crime in Chicago

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Crime rates (2010)
Crime type Rate*
Homicide: 15.2
Forcible rape: 48.4
Robbery: 501.6
Aggravated assault: 485.5
Total Violent crime: N/A
Burglary: 924.7
Larceny-theft: 2,638.4
Motor vehicle theft: 673.3
Arson: 18.3
Total Property crime: 4,236.4
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
The data collection methodology for the offense of forcible rape used by Chicago, Illinois, does not comply with national Uniform Crime Reporting Program guidelines.
Source: FBI 2010 UCR data

Crime in Chicago has been tracked by the Chicago Police Department's Bureau of Records since the beginning of the 20th century.


Besides problems in the gangland, Chicago saw a major rise in violent crime starting in the late 1960s.[1] Murders in the city first peaked in 1974, with 970 murders when the city's population was over three million, resulting in a murder rate of around 29 per 100,000, and again in 1992, with 943 murders when the city had fewer than three million people, resulting in a murder rate of 34 murders per 100,000 citizens.

Following 1992, the murder count decreased to 641 murders. The population was at 10,000 in 1999, so the decrease was slow, but still an improvement. In 2002, Chicago had fewer murders but a significantly higher murder rate than New York or Los Angeles.[2]

Violent crime[edit]

Chicago police officers in Marquette Park.

Like other major industrial cities in the US, Chicago had a major rise in violent crime starting in the late 1960s. Like most major American cities, Chicago has also experienced a decline in overall crime since the early 1990s.[1] Murders in the city peaked first in 1974, with 970 murders when the city's population was over three million (resulting in a murder rate of around 29 per 100,000), and again in 1992, with 943 murders when the city had fewer than three million people, resulting in a murder rate of 34 per 100,000. Following 1992, the murder count slowly decreased to 641 by 1999. That year it still had the most murders of any big city in the U.S.[2]

After adopting crime-fighting techniques in 2004 that were recommended by the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York City Police Department,[3] Chicago recorded 448 homicides, the lowest total since 1965. This murder rate of 15.65 per 100,000 population is still above the U.S. average, an average which takes in many small towns and suburbs.[4]

This homicide rate is similar to that of Los Angeles in 2004 (13.4 per 100,000), and twice that of New York City (7.0 per 100,000). Chicago's homicide tally increased slightly in 2005 and 2006 to 450 and 467, respectively, though the overall crime rate in 2006 continued the downward trend that has taken place since the early 1990s, with 2.5% fewer violent crimes and 2.4% fewer property crimes compared to 2005.[5]

However, David Bernstein and Noah Isackson, of Chicago magazine, have challenged Chicago's homicide statistics, arguing that cases have been deliberately misclassified to lower the rate, particularly in 2013.[6]


According to the 2005 Homicide Report released by the Chicago Police Department, the murder clearance rate (in terms of an arrest being made within two years of the homicide) has dropped from over 70% for 1991 to under 60% for 2003. Summer months have significantly higher murder rates, and over 70% of murders take place between 7PM and 5AM. The percentage of murder offenders between 14 and 16 years of age has declined from a 1994 high of approximately 15% to approximately 6% in 2005.[7]

In 2005, 75% of murders involved a firearm, and 11% were the result of a stabbing. 41% Of domestic murders were stabbings. 10% Of murders in 2005 were the result of an armed robbery, 9% were of undetermined cause, and at least 30% were gang altercations. Over 40% of victims and 60% of offenders were between the ages of 17 and 25. 85% of victims and 93% of offenders were male. 76% Of victims 77.4% of offenders were African American, 18.3% were Hispanic (17.3% of offenders), and 5.6% were white (5.3% of offenders).[7]

The black murder victimization rate was approximately 34 per 100,000; the Hispanic rate was 11 per 100,000, and the white rate 3 per 100,000. Over 75% of victims and 88% of offenders had a prior arrest history. 11% Of armed robbery victims were female, 50% of domestic victims were female, and 7% of gang-related victims were female. 31% Of armed robbery victims were over 45 years old. 29% Of domestic-related murders were committed by women. From 1991 to 2005, 19.2% of armed robbery murder victims were white, and only 4.3% of armed robbery murder offenders were white.[7]

(2005) Victims of gang-related murders: 70% Black, 26% Hispanic, 3% White; 93% male. Offenders in gang-related murders: 76% African American, 20% Hispanic, 3% white; 99% male. Victims of domestic-related murders: 79% African American, 10% Hispanic, 11% white. Victims of armed robbery—related murders: 68% African American, 13% Hispanic, 19% white, 89% male. Offenders in armed robbery—related murders: 87% African American, 9% Hispanic, 4% white; 93% male.[7]

Murder rates in Chicago vary greatly depending on the neighborhood in question. Many neighborhoods on the South Side tend to be poorer, less educated, predominantly African American, and infested with street gangs.[8] The neighborhoods of Austin on the west side and Englewood on the near South Side, for example, have homicide rates that are 10 times higher than other parts of the city.[9] Violence in these neighborhoods has had a detrimental impact on the academic performance of children in schools, as well as a higher financial burden for school districts in need of counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists to help children cope with the violence.[10]

Media Portrayal[edit]

The high crime rates around the city of Chicago are not as anticipated by the media as Chicago residents would believe. According to, the real truth about Chicago's murder rate was revealed. In the summer, the murder rate in Chicago dramatically increases. Between 1991 and 2011, crime rates have substantially decreased.[11]

Despite this, crime rate in Chicago has been the subject of substantial hyperbole. In the summer of 2012, many major media outlets compared the homicide rate in Chicago to the Holocaust or even Afghanistan.[12] However, recent Chicago homicide rates are nowhere near those seen in the '70s, '80s and '90s. In fact, the past decade has logged some of the lowest annual rates since 1965. Gun violence is the leading factor of Chicago deaths, and the media portrays Chicago as one of the most, if not the most dangerous city in the United States of America, regardless of that information's accuracy.[13][14]

During Chicago's strictest gun law years, many arms were flowing in from surrounding suburbs that had little to no restrictions on gun purchasing. The New York Times constructed an infographic showing this phenomenon.[15]

CBS explains in higher depth that Chicago violence has indeed decreased, no matter what the media projects the rates to be. CBS Chicago stated that the media has changed from 1994 as compared to 2014. Media comes out much faster in today's society, rather than the impact-filling years during the last stint in the 20th century.[16]

Homicides in Chicago in certain years[edit]

Number of homicides in Chicago by year
1928: 498[17]
1964: 390[18]
1965: 396[18]
1966: 512[19]
1967: 548[20]
1968: 645[21]
1969: 715[22]
1970: 810[23]
1971: 824[24]
1972: 711[25]
1973: 862[26]
1974: 970[27]
1975: 818[28]
1976: 814[29]
1977: 823[30]
1978: 787[31]
1979: 856[32]
1980: 863[33]
1981: 877[34]
1982: 668[35]
1983: 729[36]
1984: 741[37]
1985: 666[38]
1986: 744[39]
1987: 691[40]
1988: 660[41]
1989: 742[42]
1990: 851[43]
1991: 928[44]
1992: 943[44]
1993: 855[44]
1994: 931[44]
1995: 828[44]
1996: 796[44]
1997: 761[44]
1998: 704[44]
1999: 643[44]
2000: 633[44]
2001: 667[44]
2002: 656[44]
2003: 601[44]
2004: 453[44]
2005: 451[44]
2006: 471[44]
2007: 448[44]
2008: 513[44]
2009: 459[44]
2010: 436[44]
2011: 435[44]
2012: 516[45]
2013: 441[46]
2014: 432[46]


A Chicago police officer on a Segway

Chicago was among one of the first U.S. cities to build an integrated emergency response center to coordinate the city's response to natural disasters, gang violence, and terrorist attacks. Built in 1995, the center is integrated with more than 2000 cameras, communications with all levels of city government, and a direct link to the National Counterterrorism Center. Police credited surveillance cameras with contributing to decreased crime in 2004.[47]

Recently installed anti-crime cameras are capable of pinpointing gunshot sounds, calculating where the shots were fired, and pointing and zooming the cameras in the direction of the shots within a two-block radius.[47] Since surveillance cameras have been placed in high-crime areas, some Chicagoans feel uneasy about being so closely watched,[citation needed] but others believe their streets are safer.[who?]

Because the Chicago Police Department tallies data differently than police in other cities, the FBI often does not accept their crime statistics. Chicago police officers record all criminal sexual assaults, as opposed to only rape. They count aggravated battery together with the standard category of aggravated assault. As a result, Chicago is often omitted from studies such as Morgan Quitno's annual "Safest/Most Dangerous City" survey, which relies on FBI-collected data.[48]

The Chicago Police Department developed to provide city residents with a tool to assist in problem-solving and combating crime and disorder in their neighborhoods. It is based upon the CLEAR (Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting) system developed by the Department for use by its police officers. This web application enables citizens to search the Chicago Police Department's database of reported crime. Individuals will be able to see maps, graphs, and tables of reported crime. The database contains 90 days of information, which can be accessed in blocks of up to 14 days. Data is refreshed daily. However, the most recent information is always 6 days old.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 2004 Chicago Police Department Annual Report Retrieved Aug. 9, 2012
  2. ^ a b Heinzmann, David (January 1, 2003). "Chicago falls out of 1st in murders". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  3. ^ David Heinzmann and Rex W. Huppke (12/19/2004).City murder toll lowest in decades Chicago Tribune.
  4. ^ Chicago Police Department News Release, January 19, 2007 [1] PDF (494 KiB)
  5. ^ Chicago Police Department News Release, January 19, 2007 [2] PDF (494 KiB)
  6. ^ Bernstein, David; Isackson, Noah (April 7, 2014). "The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates". Chicago. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  7. ^ a b c d "2005 Murder Analysis". Chicago Police Department. 2005. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Moser, Whet (14 August 2012). "Gawker Glosses Chicago’s Murder Problem". Chicago (Chicago Tribune Media Group) (August 2012). Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Christensen, Jen (14 March 2014). "Tackling Chicago's 'crime gap'". CNN (Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.). Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Sharkey, P. T.; Tirado-Strayer, N; Papachristos, A. V.; Raver, C. C. (2012). "The effect of local violence on children's attention and impulse control". American Journal of Public Health 102 (12): 2287–93. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300789. PMID 23078491.  edit
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Chicago Homicides Outnumber U.S. Troop Killings In Afghanistan". Huffington Post. 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^,1279276
  18. ^ a b Chicago Police Annual Report 1965
  19. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1966
  20. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1967
  21. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1968
  22. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1969
  23. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1970
  24. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1971
  25. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1972
  26. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1973
  27. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1974
  28. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1975
  29. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1976
  30. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1977
  31. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1978
  32. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1979
  33. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1980
  34. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1981
  35. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1982
  36. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1983
  37. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1984
  38. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1985
  39. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1986
  40. ^ Chicago Police Annual Report 1987
  41. ^ 752-homicide Total Is Lowest In Chicago In Years
  42. ^
  43. ^ Official Count Shows 851 Slain In Chicago Last Year May 30, 1991; Chicago Tribune
  44. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u 2011 Chicago Murder Analysis report Chicago Police Department. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  45. ^
  46. ^ a b
  47. ^ a b McKay , Jim (12/8/2005). Triggered Response. Government Technology at
  48. ^ Locy, Toni (6/7/2005). Murder, violence rates fall, FBI says. USA Today.

Further reading[edit]

  • Lesy, Michael (2007). Murder City: The Bloody History of Chicago in the Twenties. W. W. Norton. ISBN 0393060306. 

External links[edit]