BY MICHAEL LANSU
Homicide Watch Chicago
When it comes to murders, Chicago has been called a city of two extremes.
A majority of the killings in recent years happened in portions of the South and West Side, yet even those areas still have communities with extremely low murder totals. Communities with the lowest murder totals can be found throughout the city — especially near suburban borders.
A Homicide Watch analysis of Chicago Police murder totals from 2011 through 2013 found a drastic difference between communities. During that time, 41 percent of the 1,349 murders reported by police happened in just nine communities, while 34 percent of the city’s 77 official communities averaged one killing per year or less.
Four communities had zero murders since the beginning of 2011 — Edison Park, Forest Glen and Montclare on the Northwest Side and Mount Greenwood on the Southwest Side.
The Clearing, East Side, Loop, North Center, North Park, Norwood Park, O’Hare and West Elsdon communities each had one murder since Jan 1, 2011. Current Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was appointed in June 2011.
The Armour Square, Dunning, Fuller Park, Hegewisch, Lincoln Park and Near South Side communities had two killings during that time. The Archer Heights, Burnside, Garfield Ridge, Hyde Park, Jefferson Park, Lincoln Square, Oakland and West Lawn communities all had three murders.
The opposite extreme are the Austin and West Garfield Park communities. Austin, one of the largest communities in both land area and population, had the most murders since the start of 2011 with 96. West Garfield Park had the highest rate per 100,000 people.
The Northwest Side has the most extreme contrast as Austin, the community with most killings, and Montclare, the community with the fewest, are neighbors.
On the South Side, the West Englewood community had the most total slayings with 70. Neighboring Englewood had the highest rate per 100,000 residents.
“While there are areas of the city that have historically seen more violence than others, we have made progress citywide over the past year and a half,” Chicago Police spokesman Adam Collins said. “In 2013, when Chicago saw historic lows in crime and violence, 18 of the 22 police districts saw declines in murder or remained flat, with the most significant reductions in murders being seen on the South Side.”
Eight of the communities with the highest murder rates are on the South Side — West Pullman, Chatham, Riversdale, Woodlawn, Greater Grand Crossing, West Englewood, Washington Park and Englewood.
Chicago Police noted that five of the six districts that saw the greatest reduction in murder in 2013 were on the South Side.
Despite the higher murder rates on the South Side, 22 communities entirely south of Roosevelt Road had less than 10 killings since the beginning of 2011. However, only eight South Side communities ranked in the Top 25 in lowest murder rate.
The North Side had the most safe communities when looking at fewest murders and lowest murder rate. Only four of the 23 communities completely above North Avenue had 10 or more murders — Belmont Cragin (16), Albany Park (11), Upton (11) and Rogers Park (10).
“Every police district in the city saw between an 8 percent and 24 percent reduction in overall crime [in 2013], with the largest reductions in overall crime being seen on the North and West sides,” Collins said. “While the city continues to experience historic lows in crime and violence in 2014, we know there is much more work to be done and no one will rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety.”