Monday, November 20, 2017

What should we think of homicide tally – on the rise, decline or nonsense?

The partisanship of politics is going to be played with the violence tallies for Chicago – regardless of how many people are killed and whether that’s less or more than in the past.
Homicide tallies on decline in Englewood neighborhood this year -- will it last?
We’re going to hear tons of rants from all sides over the fact that some 600 people have been killed in Chicago this year. That total was reached last week, and some are more than eager to say that means Chicago remains as violent a place as ever.

ALTHOUGH I COULDN’T help but notice the official Chicago Police Department spin that was placed on the tally. They pointed out the fact that in the Englewood neighborhood, the number of murders during 2017 was only 45.

Which is far less than the 79 murders that took place in that neighborhood’s police district during the same time period last year – a year in which Chicago had 780 slayings, more than in any year during the 21st Century.

The point being that the neighborhood often thought of as the most violent in Chicago (unless you want to hang on to old memories of the West Side’s North Lawndale neighborhood being the “American Millstone”) is experiencing a decline in urban violence.

A fact, I’m sure, that the conservative ideologues amongst us who want to believe that Chicago is all that is wrong with our society will not want to believe. They’ll want to emphasize that 600-plus tally. Then again, they’ll only want to believe the worst.

JUST AS I’M sure they’ll want to continue thinking of the city to the east, Gary, Ind., as the “murder capital” of the country – even though a raw reading of the numbers don’t back that up (there are more violent places than the one-time “City of the Century”).

Then again, in this era where the “fake news” label is thrown about, they’ll believe what they want.

The reason I bring up Gary is the fact that their homicide tally thus far in 2017 is also 45. As in Gary being as violent in a technical sense as the Englewood neighborhood.
New downtown Gary mural doesn't erase "murder capital" image. Photo by Gregory Tejeda
Should this mean we should disregard claims that Englewood is getting better because it has the same tally as Gary, Ind.? Could bringing that Whole Foods supermarket into the neighborhood be having a slight impact on making the South Side neighborhood a more livable place for its residents?

OR COULD IT mean that numbers can be used to make just about any claim one wants to do? That without context, no homicide tally really means much of anything!

Keep in mind that I’m not trying to downplay the level of violence we’re experiencing in Chicago. Any one death is a tragedy; it certainly isn’t something to be celebrated.

Yet I can’t help but think that many of the people who get obsessed about keeping track of the death tallies for Chicago are more interested in perpetuating the image of Chicago as an excessively violent place that no self-respecting person would want to live in.

Which in my mind is an attitude that discredits itself, and not just because I often view Chicago as being the Greatest City on Planet Earth. I sense that the people most eager to spew such talk are the ones who have no interest in actually resolving the problem of our violence level.

THEY CERTAINLY WOULD be disappointed if our incidents of violence actually declined. They want to keep the image of a “hellhole” alive, and it won’t really matter what the actual numbers are for the homicide rate.
TRUMP: Should we care what his fans think?

My point being that I’m not going to get obsessed with that “600” total that we surpassed last week – other than to admit it is sad to have so many incidents that resulted in families out there losing loved ones.

Nor am I going to over-exaggerate the significance of that 57 percent drop in slayings within the Englewood neighborhood; unless we can see it turn into a trend that lasts for several years.

The real story will be what occurs in 2018 and 2019 and the coming years in Chicago – a long-range view that I’m sure the ideologues amongst us will find to be “boring!” but is more relevant than any of the nonsense they prefer to spew.


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