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Homicides, shootings up across Chicago

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(The Center Square) – With the number of homicides and shootings both up, Chicago Ald. Chris Taliferro is pushing for top city officials to do all they can to quickly fill the more than 2,000 vacancies now hampering operations across the city police department.

Overall, Chicago saw a 28% increase in homicides last March compared to the same time in 2023, with the 46 killings last month tying for the second most over any four week period over the past decade. The number of shooting victims was also up in March, including the city experiencing its deadliest weekend of the year when seven people were slain over the recent Easter weekend.

A former officer who now also serves on the city’s Public Safety Committee, Taliaferro has painfully taken note of the violence and is now also calling for more residents to get involved in keeping their communities safe.

“We need to look at some of the things that we can improve, for example community engagement and encouraging our residents to help to curtail some of the violence,” Taliferro told The Center Square. “I think we’ve taken some good steps. It’s just going to take some time to get things where we want them to be.”

Taliaferro also pointed to the recent hiring of new Police Commissioner Larry Snelling and district commanders now directly engaging more with residents as moves in the right direction, though he admitted the department needs to build out its ranks in order to have optimum effectiveness.

“We can’t continue to operate with over 2,000 officers shy of our 13,500 operational force,” he added. “Visibility means crime deterrent and a lot of our districts are operating on skeleton crews. We need to make sure that we’re hiring folks rather than saving money because saving money becomes irrelevant if you have lives that are being lost and that means we’re putting price tags on lives.”

CPD data also showed that officers recovered 1,181 firearms in March, or an average of more than 38 each day, with that rate being up some 16% over the same period in 2023. Taliaferro said Snelling couldn’t be taking charge at a more critical time for the city.

“I think our superintendent will be able to implement plans to help keep violence as low as possible,” he said. “The second key is we have better communication with our residents through our district councils that were elected this past election season. That is a great way of keeping our residents informed of what’s going on from a law enforcement perspective and helps to get them involved in that process.”