CHICAGO (CNN) — Killings and shootings continue to dip in Chicago, a city long plagued by gun violence, according to crime figures released Sunday (April 1).
March marked the 13th consecutive month of declining gun violence, the Chicago Police Department said. Shootings dipped 17% and murders dropped 25% compared to March 2017, figures show.
Year-to-date, murders dipped 22% and shootings dropped 25% compared to the same period in 2017, Chicago police said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the city still has a long way to go to curb gun violence despite the steady progress.
“We are making progress and certainly it’s not cause for celebration,” Johnson said. “But when you look at it you do have to acknowledge progress.”
The nation’s third largest city has made considerable gains over the past year. Chicago saw a 16% drop in murders from 2016 — the deadliest year in nearly two decades, with the city recording 771 murders — to 2017, when there were 650 murders.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Johnson said. “As long as we keep trending the way we are and we keep developing these relationships and partnerships and continue to invest in our police department, then we’ll see the gains that we’re looking for.”
Chicago police attributed the recent declines to the hiring of more officers, stronger community policing efforts and investments in technology, such as gunshot detection systems and predictive crime software to help deploy officers. The technology has been rolled out in nearly half of Chicago police districts, police said.
Max Kapustin, research director at the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs, said the recent declines are encouraging, but it’s too early to celebrate.
“There are still way, way, way too many people being shot and being killed in the city,” he said. “The progress is real and it’s very important people realize that. It’s incremental, though, and we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Kapustin said it’s important police continue to make breakthroughs in more neighborhoods and don’t lose the gains they have made in specific areas.
Year-to-date, Chicago police have recovered more than 1,900 guns, which is up 3% over last year, according to the department.
“I think gun recovery numbers are also very important. They’re a good predictor of what sort of year we’re going to have, I think, because the violence that we’re seeing is gun violence, period,” Kapustin said.
Johnson said the department will continue to increase its patrol numbers. Police said 86 new officers were deployed in March to bolster the 720 officers already hired as part of a two-year plan to add nearly 1,000 positions.
He said the department will also try to re-establish community partnerships in the coming months.
“CPD can’t do this alone, so we need those community partners to help us continue the crime reduction,” Johnson said.
President Trump has often criticized Chicago’s crime rate, usually talking or tweeting about the failure to fight gun violence there. Trump has also deployed federal authorities to the city.
Chicago isn’t the only city to see recent crime reductions.
Baltimore, a city with one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the country, did not record a homicide for 11 days in February, the longest homicide-free period since March 2014.