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Chicago records 51 homicides in January, highest toll since 2000 – USA TODAY

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Chicago, US third largest city, recorded 51 homicides and shootings in January, the highest toll for the month since at least 2000. Police force struggling to regain public trust following the release of a video of a white officer fatally shooting a black teen.

The police department said In a news release Monday gang conflicts and retaliatory violence drove the increase in homicides. But the rise in violence also notably comes as the Chicago Police Department faces increased scrutiny following the court-ordered release of a police video showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times, and as the department implements changes in how it monitors street stops by officers.

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The number of shooting incidents more than doubled, from 119 last January to 242 this January. The number of shooting victims increased from 136 to 292. The nation’s third-largest city usually sees more violence in the summer months.

“We can’t put our finger on” specific reasons for the increase, the city’s interim police superintendent, John Escalante, said. But he noted the increase coincides with an equally dramatic decrease in the number of street stops made in January.

Chicago has become a national symbol of gun violence since at least 2012, when the number of homicides climbed past the 500 mark, far higher than any other U.S. city. With police initiating a number of crime-fighting measures and spending millions of dollars on overtime, the city saw the total fall closer to 400 in each of the next two years, and 2014 ended with the fewest homicides in decades. But last year the number of homicides and shooting incidents rose again.

 

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