In many ways, Chicago can be considered two separate cities, divided by class. Chicago is home to more than 7,300 restaurants, long spans of beaches, and luxury real estate, but is also one of the deadliest cities in the nation.
Earning the nickname “Chiraq,” the Windy city has seen more than 600 homicides this year. By Labor Day the city had already surpassed its 2015 homicide rate, and this year, it is on track to have its deadliest year on record in the last 20 years if the death toll exceeds 730.
During the month of November, there were 77 murders in Chicago, bringing the total number of homicides to 682. So far, November has been the third most deadly month of 2016.
Chicago’s deadly trend is consistent with that of some other cities in the country. Baltimore is on track to meet 300 homicides for the second year in a row, while Washington, D.C. had 113 homicides by the end of October.
Yet, for the majority of the country, violent crime rates have dropped significantly. In New York City, shootings and homicides were both down through the month of October.
“It is gratifying to see the members of the NYPD reach new crime reduction milestones,” said New York Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
Chicago police, on the other hand, have not been as successful. They report that Chicago’s rising homicide rates are largely due to activity in the city’s South and West sides. They also report a sizable number of illegal gun possessions in the area.
Despite strict gun regulations within the city, it is still legal to bring a gun into Chicago from a neighboring state. Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that this happens pretty regularly. In 2014, 88% of all the gun seizures in Illinois were recovered from Chicago, and roughly 60% of those guns were traced back to other states. From 2010 to 2014, the majority of these guns came from neighboring Indiana.
As the Chicago Police Department struggles with community trust and civil unrest, especially following the 2016 election, the department is still trying to restore peace within the city limits. Law enforcement officials say that they are trying to pull illegal firearms from the streets to combat the growing rates of violence.
In a statement, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said:
“We will not allow the level of violence we’ve seen in some parts of the city to continue and I have laid out a comprehensive plan to build stronger community partnerships, which is crucial to making our streets safer.”
By the end of October, officials say that 7,000 guns have been recovered this year. Within the next two years, Chicago also hopes to hire 970 new officers.