In a year when the Chicago Police Department, mayor and the city itself dominated national headlines and received widespread attention over the fatal shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald by a police officer, the city also saw an increase in violence. Four hundred sixty-eight homicides were reported in 2015, making it the most violent year since 2012, when 500 people were killed, the Chicago Tribune reported. The number, however, still was well below the level of homicides in the 1970s.
Chicago’s violent streak was much worse than those of other major cities. Los Angeles saw 280 killings through Dec. 26, and New York saw 339. Chicago’s homicide rate grew by 13 percent compared with 2014, and the number of shooting victims grew by the same percentage. In 2014, 416 homicides were reported, and 420 were reported the previous year. The 2015 number still stands far from Chicago's 1974 record of 970.
Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante told the Tribune the department will allow a few hundred officers who work in the most dangerous neighborhoods to patrol on their days off, and also will focus on arresting those found with illegal firearms. "We are having an impact with the policing that we're doing," Escalante said.
"I think in terms of our staffing, we're good. We've just got to make sure we're deploying people properly where we need them.”
The ideas proposed by Escalante to stem the violence continue the actions implemented by former Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was fired in the aftermath of the McDonald shooting. The release of the dash cam video showing McDonald, who was black, being shot by white Police Officer Jason Van Dyke led to massive protests across the city and calls for the resignation of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.
— Mr T 2 (@GovtsTheProblem) December 10, 2015
Emanuel has since called for changes to Chicago’s policing strategies, including more Tasers and better training to help de-escalate dangerous situations, USA Today reported. Chicago police officers shot 22 people in 2015, fewer than have been recorded in recent years.
Next week, Chicago police officers are expected to start receiving the new training, some of which will involve officers' being taught to use time to resolve incidents and the least amount of force possible, the Tribune reported.