The city of Chicago has logged one of its deadliest years for homicides in 2016, according to data made public by the Chicago Police Department. The murder rate is the highest its been in over 19 years with a huge surge in gun violence in 2016. There were 3,550 shooting incidents with a total of 762 murders, and 4,331 shooting victims, according to a statement released by the police department on January 1, 2017. While recording 480 murders in 2015, the number of deaths in 2016 was the most in the city since 1997.
The constant bloodshed has brought trauma to thousands of people in one of the largest cities in America. In the final week of December 2016, the city’s police department investigated 27 shooting incidents with a total of 12 fatalities.
In addition to the civilian deaths, attacks on police officers nearly doubled in 2016. The police department stated this is a “completely unacceptable rise in violence.” The department however did not state specific figures for attacks on officers. In a effort to stem the violence, the Chicago Police Department will increase its police force in 2017.
In August 2016, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner passed a law that mandated stiffer penalties for anyone who doesn’t have a valid gun-owner identification card and intends to sell a gun in the sate. Although the numbers seem very grim, city police officers made 10% more gun arrests in 2016 and confiscated 8,300 guns, which is a 20% increase from 2015.
The last time the number of deaths were higher than in 2016, was in 1997 when the city had 796 murders, according to historical data from the Chicago Police Department. The unprecedented murder rate had President-elect Donald Trump saying that federal law enforcement should be brought in to the city to help with the violence.
The violence has claimed the life of NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin Nykea Aldridge. The mother of four was shot and killed in August while pushing her baby in a stroller. She was an innocent bystander who was caught in the crossfire of a shootout. The 15-year-old grandson of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., was killed in November because of a dispute over a pair of sneakers. The out-of-control violence has claimed the lives of several other children. A 7-year-old girl was shot while attending a vigil for a 14-year-old boy killed earlier on the same day. The 7-year-old was driven to the hospital by Ashake Banks, whose own 7-year-old daughter was fatally shot in 2012.
The Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson has placed the blame for the uptick in violence on gang members riding the wave of “anti-police rhetoric” in Chicago and across the country. He said the rhetoric “has emboldened and actually empowered these gang members to do what they do.” Johnson feels that the gang members may believe community residents will take their side instead of the police’s. The police commissioner noted that the violence in Chicago is concentrated on the city’s south and west sides. Areas in which have had a history of gang conflicts.