Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is making headway on addressing violence, despite data showing the city continues to see violent crimes and businesses are packing up and leaving over the violence.
“Our data-driven strategy recognizes that that’s where we need to put the lion’s share of our investments, our time, our education, our outreach,” Lightfoot said Wednesday of efforts focusing on guns, gangs and investing resources in dangerous areas of the city. She noted that the city is making “progress” on fighting crime.
Chicago police released crime statistics this week showing the number of people shot in the city is down 20% this year and homicides are down 16%, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The media asked Lightfoot if the numbers only reflect a national trend following the pandemic, similar to the same crimes dropping in cities such as New York and Los Angeles this year. The mayor instead argued the drops are due to a “multitiered strategy” to curb gang and gun crimes.
Homicides skyrocketed in Chicago in 2020, following a drop in violence for the three previous years. The Windy City recorded nearly 770 homicides in 2020, up 50% compared to 2019. Last year, the city broke a 25-year record when it surpassed 800 homicides, the Chicago Tribune previously reported.
Though the number of people shot and the number of people killed across the city is down this year, there has still been a 35% increase in all reported crimes in 2022, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Additionally, shootings, murders, car thefts and other thefts are all up this year in two police districts patrolling the city’s downtown area. Lightfoot acknowledged the increases in the downtown area and on the North Side, but said the people carrying out the crimes “don’t live in those communities” and violence is often around 45 businesses with liquor licenses that remain open until 4 or 5 a.m.
”We’re seeing people coming out of these late-night establishments and getting into something, and that leads to a shooting,” she said.
Lightfoot didn’t elaborate on how she would curb crime around establishments that are open until the early morning hours, but did say she’s willing to lose revenue from bars “because frankly, I’m more concerned about loss of life. She added that she will engage in “a serious conversation” with bar owners about the matter.
Lightfoot said that major corporations recently moving to the city or expanding illustrate that the efforts to cut crime are on the right track. Google, for example, purchased the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago this summer.
Fox News Digital, however, reported earlier this summer that small business owners and even corporations have been leaving the city due to the rampant crime.
“We would do thousands of jobs a year in the city, but as we got robbed more, my people operating rollers and pavers we got robbed, our equipment would get stolen in broad daylight and there would usually be a gun involved, and it got expensive and it got dangerous,” Gary Rabine, founder of the Rabine Group and owner of 13 businesses, told Fox News Digital in June of why he pulled his road paving company from the city.
Billionaire Ken Griffin announced in June that he was moving his hedge-fund firm Citadel out of Chicago after citing crime as a major concern over the past few months.
“If people aren’t safe here, they’re not going to live here,” Griffin told the Wall Street Journal in April. “I’ve had multiple colleagues mugged at gunpoint. I’ve had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Countless issues of burglary. I mean, that’s a really difficult backdrop with which to draw talent to your city from.”
Lightfoot’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on businesses leaving the city.
The city’s efforts to combat crime comes as the police department made a record low number of arrests last year and faces low morale among the ranks.
Chicago police made arrests in 12% of crime cases in 2021, the lowest rate since 2001, as sweeping changes have been made in recent years as to how the department patrols the streets, including restricting their vehicle pursuit policy and ending foot pursuits if a suspect runs from an officer or if someone commits a minor offense.
Retired Chicago Police Department Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy told Fox News Digital last month that morale in the department is low in part due to officers believing that elected officials don’t have their back.
“There’s a fear among police officers that if they do the right thing, politics or other considerations, racial considerations might come into play and they might end up getting jammed, fired, criminally charged for doing the right thing,” Roy said at the time.
Chicago PD is also facing staffing issues, with the department recording 13,300 officers in May 2019, when Lightfoot took office, to roughly 11,600 officers now, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Lightfoot called for more officers during her remarks Monday.
“Our officers are working their tails off,” Lightfoot said. “They are working very hard.”