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Cops say crime is down -- but they'd better not be bragging

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For the 22nd straight month, the Chicago Police Department announced Sunday, crime in the city has dropped.

This is good.

Police Supt. Jody Weis tells us this is because of the "excellent police work of the men and women of our police force."

This is bad.

If there is one thing any veteran police reporter can tell you, it's that smart top cops go easy on grabbing the credit for drops in crime for the most obvious of reasons -- that don't want to have to accept the blame when crime rates go back up.

And crime rates, sooner or later, always go back up. Short-range gains matter less than long-range trends.

Good police work can be a significant factor in keeping crime under control and even bringing down the rate, but so much more goes into those numbers -- the economy, the weather, the price of pot or heroin, changes in the population and much more.

Two important observations tend to get overlooked:

Chicago is a pretty safe town to live in, except in its poorest neighborhoods. So tourists can relax, even as a city that cares about all its residents -- especially its children -- works to reduce crime rates in every corner of town.

And, observation No. 2: Per capita crime rates in Chicago, especially for murder, may be declining somewhat, but they still outpace other big cities, most notably New York and Los Angeles.

So nobody's got a thing to brag about.

Still, good news.

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I had to deal with Chicago police twice. Once when the portable ladder has dieappeared from my yard - later it was found that the neighbor stole it; another when vandals broke the window in the parked van and stole the gps from inside. Both times, the officer helpfullly explained what is required in order to file the police report for the insurance. Both times I asked if they are actually going to investigate who did it. Both times they were shocked. "No, we don't do that".

The reporter should have asked to clarify what exactly they mean by their "police work". The answer might be not what you'd expect.

Crime is down nationwide, and gun ownership is up nationwide. And most criminals are dead from all the gang related shootings (there is a shortage of dangerous criminals).

Just a couple of things...@vad, district police officers in beat cars who respond to initial incidents don't investigate crimes. Detectives assigned to areas investigate crimes.

And for the writer, there are other municipalities like Orlando that have a higher per capita murder rate than Chicago.

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This page contains a single entry by Tom McNamee published on November 8, 2010 3:13 PM.

Raising the minimum age for Chicago cops -- smart move or short-sighted? was the previous entry in this blog.

Why Preckwinkle plan to save $55 million a year might not work is the next entry in this blog.

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