Like most major American cities, Chicago has experienced a decline in overall
crime since the 1990s.
However, in addition to its gangland problems, Chicago historically saw a major
rise in violent crime starting in the late 1960s. 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. It peaked again in 1993
with 931 murders. Following 1992, the murder count slowly decreased to
705 by 1999; by this time, it had the most murders of any big city in the U.S.
After adopting crime-fighting techniques recommended by the New York Police
Department and the Los Angeles Police Department in 2004,
Chicago recorded 448 homicides, the lowest total since 1965. Nevertheless, this
murder rate of 15.65 per 100,000 population is still above the U.S. average.
Chicago has been among the first U.S. cities to build an integrated emergency
response center to coordinate the city's response to terrorist attacks, gang
violence, and natural disasters. Built in 1995, the center is integrated with
over 2000 cameras, a direct link to the National Counterterrorism Center, and
communications with all levels of city government. Recently installed anti-crime
cameras have been introduced and 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. Early results show these
new cameras to be highly effective in reducing crime.
Placed in residential areas, these cameras cause some Chicagoans to feel uneasy
about being so closely watched. They have prompted some calls of discrimination
since these cameras tend to be prevalent in Black and Latino communities with
higher than average crime rates.
The FBI often does not accept crime statistics submitted by the Chicago
Police Department, which tallies data differently than other cities. The police
record all criminal sexual assaults as opposed to only rape as with other police
departments. Aggravated battery is counted along with the standard category of
aggravated assault. As a result, Chicago is often omitted from studies like
Morgan Quitno's annual "Safest/Most Dangerous City" survey.