Sunday, December 30, 2012

Murder: A tale of two cities

Two great American cities are going in very different directions in terms of violence and murder.  In Chicago things are getting worse in New York things are as good as they have ever been.

In Chicago, the rising homicide toll — 500 as of Friday, a 17 percent increase in slayings over last year — has been a looming shadow over the city, plaguing residents and the city's leadership for much of the year, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Although Chicago had almost twice as many homicides 20 years ago as it did this year, the increase in violent deaths represents a backslide for a city that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he wants to move forward. And with Chicago's homicide rate exceeding those in some other major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and New York, Emanuel, ever mindful of the city and his administration's image, has seen the city's violence attract unwanted national attention.

Murders in New York have dropped to their lowest level in over 40 years, reported the New York Times. Homicides are down 20 percent from last year alone.

There were 414 recorded homicides so far in 2012, compared with 515 for the same period in 2011, city officials said. That is a striking decline from murder totals in the low-2,000s that were common in the early 1990s, and is also below the record low: 471, set in 2009.

“The essence of civilization is that you can walk down the street without having to look over your shoulder,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

Six precincts recorded no murders as of Friday afternoon: The 7th on the Lower East Side; the 19th on the Upper East Side; the 112th in the Forest Hills and Rego Park neighborhoods of Queens; the 94th in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; the 76th in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; and Central Park, according to the police.

Of the 400 murders in 2012, 223 were gunshot victims, 84 victims were stabbed to death, 43 died of blunt trauma and 11 died of asphyxiation. The majority of the 400 homicides occurred on a Saturday, followed by early Sunday morning. Most occurred at 2 a.m. People were more likely to be killed outside than in. Nearly 70 percent of the victims had prior criminal arrests, the police said.

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