For the third straight year, the city of Chicago is reporting steady year-end crime decreases, according to data recently released by the Chicago Police Department ( CPD ) 's News and Affairs Office.
In 2011, the number of citywide crime complaints, or reported crimes, dropped 7.7 percent to approximately 85,000.
While most complaint categories posted modest shifts ( varying from -0.7 to 2.4 percent ) , the city saw a 10 percent reduction in aggravated battery and a whopping 30 percent reduction in theft.
The 23rd District, which includes the heavily gay Boystown area and which found itself at the center of controversy last summer when several high-profile violent crimes rocked the community, posted a more modest 2.7 percent dip. Citizens reported 1,589 crimes in 2011, compared to 1,633 in 2010.
While murder and felony theft rates dropped dramatically ( about 20 percent each ) , the number of reported crimes in the districtwhich spans Boystown and parts of Lakeview and Uptownrose in other categories.
In 2011, there were six more reported criminal sexual assaults, 20 more aggravated batteries and 47 additional motor vehicle thefts.
In an interview last summer, then-Commander Kathleen Boehmer ( who was recently appointed acting executive officer of the Area Central Detective Bureau ) told Windy City Times that CPD officers had uncovered and were working to dismantle several auto theft rings. Citywide auto theft rates rose 1.8 percent in 2011.
Boehmer also noted that in the 23rd District's Boystown neighborhood, it's common for drunken revelers to forget where they've parked their cars and report the vehicles stolen. These complaints may have inflated auto theft data.
In terms of trends, both the 23rd District and the city as a whole saw crime upticks in summer months; these tapered down as 2011 drew to a close. Crime increases during warmer weather are standard.
"The lakefront in the summer is the lakefront in the summer," Boehmer said.
Property crime rates in the 23rd District dropped steadily toward the end of 2011. Violent crime rates vacillated for the latter half of the year ( 40-60 reported crimes per month ) and ended on a low note.
Windy City Times repeatedly requested 2011 beat-by-beat data for the 23rd District, but were unable to procure such detailed information. As such, it is not possible to pinpoint exactly where the violent crimes occurred.
Despite fluctuations, 2011 closed on a downward slide.
While there were some good crime trends in 2011 in Chicago, unfortunately in the first quarter of 2012, the murder rate in the city has jumped 35 percent. There have been 114 murders as of March 29.
* A note on methodology: The Chicago Police Depart issued detailed monthly index crime reports from January 2004 to November 2011. These reports, available at www.chicagopolice.org, were used as the basis for most of Windy City Times' charts and graphics.
In mid-2011, former Newark Chief of Police Garry McCarthy was appointed police superintendent of Chicago. The veteran officer instituted in Chicago his hallmark CompStat program, which has been credited with lowering homicide rates in New York City.
This system measures and tracks crime differently than Chicago had in previous years. As such, it is not possible to provide apples-to-apples comparisons of 2011 data and that found in earlier reports. The CPD News and Affairs Office provided Windy City Times with comparable 2010 and 2011 year-end data that we've used as the basis of our written analysis.
All data sources are noted in captions for the charts.
Charts at the link www.windycitymediagroup.com/pdf/crimechartp8.pdf as follows.
A month-by-month breakdown of crimes reported between January and November 2011. Source: The Chicago Police Department's 2011 Index Crime Summaries.
A visualization of month-by-month crime data from January to November 2011. Source: The Chicago Police Department's 2011 Index Crime Summaries.
Crime trends from 2004 to 2010; data reflects year-end totals. Source: The Chicago Police Department's 2011 Index Crime Summaries.
Charts at the link www.windycitymediagroup.com/pdf/crimechartp9.pdf as follows:
Year-End crime complaints as compiled by the Chicago Police Department's Office of News and Affairs. The CPD altered in mid- to late-2011 how it measures and tracks crime.
A comparison of 2010 and 2011 reported crimes, by category. Source: The Chicago Police Department's Office of News and Affairs.
Types of crimes committed, by percentage. Source: The Chicago Police Department's Office of News and Affairs.