Number of homicide in Chicago drops in 2017

NATION-NOW     Chicago ends 2017 with 650 murders a grim sign of improvement     
       Chicago ends 2017 with 650 murders

Chicago ended 2017 with fewer homicides than the year before, but gang violence in the city's most unsafe neighborhoods kept the total number of killings above the 600 mark for only the second time in more than a decade.

The city recorded 650 murders in 2017, a drop from 771 murders in 2016 - which had been the deadliest year in almost two decades.

Shootings in Chicago exceeded 3,500 in 2017, down from more than 4,300 in 2016 but up from more than 2,900 in 2015.

In 2017 Chicago police added more sworn personnel and it invested in new technology to drive what CPD calls its smart policing strategy. The centers use predictive crime software that helps police commanders decide where to deploy officers.

The city was also coming off a high baseline after the number of homicides in 2016, which represented a almost 60 percent spike from the previous year.

Homicides fell in Washington from 135 in 2016 to 116 in 2017.

"I am proud of the progress our officers made in reducing gun violence all across the city in 2017", Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a statement.

"There's still a lot of work ahead of us, but we're heading in the right direction", Chicago Tribune quoted Johnson as saying.

Anti-police sentiment there fueled a surge in violence after the 2016 release of a video showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager.

That included the use of "strategic decision support centers" in neighborhoods that have struggled with violence, he said.

Yellow police tape is displayed at a crime scene after a motorist was shot in the head along the 2700 block of south 80th Street in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 1, 2017.

Still, the drops - and the reasons behind the lower numbers - have police and others optimistic that some of their efforts will lead to more declines over the next year.

The deployment of more than 7,000 body cameras was the largest of its kind in the United States, the report said.

Experts are not so enthusiastic about the drop, saying Chicago will still end 2017 with historically high homicide totals. "1714 shootings in Chicago this year!" the Republican president wrote on Twitter in June. "While we made significant progress this year, we certainly aren't celebrating".

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