The 10 Illinois Cities With The Most Violent Crime

Chicago has made national headlines over the past few years as gun violence continues to plague the city, but the 2013 FBI crime statistics uncovered a few more Illinois cities rocked by violent crime. Here are the Top 10 Illinois cities with the most violent crime (Chicago excluded).

1. Rockford
2. Springfield
3. Peoria
4. Champaign
5. Aurora
6. Joliet
7. Harvey
8. Waukegan
9. Bloomington
10. Decatur

Rockford Illinois

Looking Deeper

For their analysis, researchers categorized violent crime as a range of acts, including murders, rapes, robberies and property crimes, like burglaries and auto thefts. According to the statistics, Rockford, Illinois, comes in at number one for violent crime, with 2,065 reports of violent crime per 100,000 residents. Rockford also had the most reported murders with 19, again outside of Chicago.

Other facts about the FBI Crime statistics include:

  • Harvey, which only has a population of 25,500, had a whopping 10 murders in 2013.
  • Aurora has the most violent crime of any Chicago suburb, with 601 instances per 100,000 residents.
  • Cairo, a city of only 2,608 residents, had 22 reported cases of arson in 2013.
  • Albers, with a population of 1,187, is the largest city in Illinois with no reports of any type of violent crime in 2013.
  • Chicago excluded, there were 202 reported murders in Illinois in 2013.

Although the FBI stated that crime in Chicago is underreported, city data reveals that there were about 204,000 violent crimes in The Windy City in 2013. Additionally, there were 414 murders, 11,000 robberies and 7,500 instances of violent crime per 100,000 residents.

The FBI said the data should be used to determine how local and state officials can best prevent crime in areas that are most affected by violence.

Related source: CBS Local

Summer Jobs Linked To Drop in Violent Crime

Summer job ChicagoA study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab found that summer jobs can drastically reduce a teen’s likelihood of being arrested for a violent crime.

The study analyzed behavioral pattens in three groups of teens in Chicago over the course of 16 months. Over 1,600 students were assigned to one of three summer groups: The Chicago One Summer Plus program (work), The Chicago One Summer Plus program plus social-emotional support (work+support), and the control group, who were not given a spot in the program. They were free to do as they pleased during the summer, but for the sake of this post, we’ll group them as the “no work” or control faction. Researchers wanted to see if the program truly did have an impact on youth violent crime rates, as study author Sarah Heller said she heard arguments from both sides about the program’s effectiveness.

“There are opposing pieces of conventional wisdom on whether a program like this would work,” said Heller. “On one hand is the popular idea that ‘nothing stops a bullet like a job.’ On the other is a body of research on employment programs suggesting that only intensive and lengthy interventions can improve outcomes among disadvantaged youth—that one summer could never be enough.”

Those in the work group worked 25 hours a week during the summer. Teens in the work+support group were paid for 25 hours of work per week, but they worked for 15 hours and received 10 hours of social-emotional support each week. Social-emotional support was designed to help students understand and manage thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Study Results

At the conclusion of the 16-month period, researchers noted that the work and work+support groups were equally effective in reducing violent crime arrests by about 43 percent.

“The city of Chicago was courageous enough to put its One Summer Plus program to the test, and turns out that just eight weeks of summer programming decreases violent crime arrests by a huge amount for over a year after the job ends,” said Heller. “This is an incredibly encouraging finding.”

Roseanna Ander, executive director of the Chicago Crime Lab, said the results are especially worthwhile considering the demographics of the teens in the program. The majority were about 16 years old, almost all were African American, the typical student had about a C average in school, and many lived in areas of high unemployment and very high violent crime rates. She said it’s never too late to help teens in challenging situations.

“The One Summer Plus evaluation builds on other encouraging recent study findings, including those carried out by the Crime Lab, that suggest it’s not too late to help young people, even those who face serious challenges and come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Related source:

A Closer Looks At Crime in Chicago

Chicago Crime RatesThe Chicago Tribune recently produced a piece that offers a comprehensive look at crime in Chicago over the past 14 years. Violent crime, property crime and quality of life crimes have all declined over the past decade, but let’s take a closer look at how crime fluctuates in the Windy City.

Crimes By Month

It should come as no surprise to any regular reader of our blog that crime rates spike during the warm summer months. Of the summer months, July was by far the most popular month for crime. Violent crime peaked in July in 12 of the last 13 years (full 2014 data not yet available), and property crime peaked in July in nine of the last 13 years. Quality of life crimes, which are defined as crimes that “demoralize community residents by contributing to physical disorder or social decay” – think vandalism, graffiti and prostitution – occurred much more sporadically than violent and property crime.

Although violent and property crimes generally spike during the summer, the overall rate of these crimes has dropped dramatically over the past decade. In July of 2001 they were:

  • 14,511 reports of property crime
  • 9,652 instances of quality of life crimes
  • 4,471 documented violent crimes

In July of 2013, the reported numbers were:

  • 9,912 reports of property crime
  • 5,967 instances of quality of life crimes
  • 2,604 documented violent crimes.

Crime By Location

As you might expect, some neighborhoods experience more crime than others. The breakdown can be seen below.

Violent crime rates

1. Riverdale (3.2 reports per 1,000 people)

2. Washington Park (3.2/1,000)

3. West Garfield (3.1/1,000)

4. West Englewood (3.0/1,000)

5. Englewood (3.0/1,000)

Property crime rates 

1. Loop (13.6 reports per 1,000 people)

2. Fuller Park (8.5/1,000)

3. Chatham (6.5/1,000)

4. South Deering (6.0/1,000)

5. Near West Side (5.8/1,000)

Quality of life crime rates 

1. West Garfield Park (9.8 reports per 1,000 people)

2. Fuller Park (8.2/1,000)

3. North Lawndale (7.2/1,000)

4. East Garfield Park (6.4/1,000)

5. Austin (6.2/1,000)

For more information about the report, head on over to the Chicago Tribune’s crime section.

Chicago Crime Linked to Streetlight Outages

Broken streetlightsA new study by the Chicago Department of Transportation found that the city crime rate increased seven percent when entire blocks of streetlights weren’t functioning correctly.

The report is concerning for a number of reasons. First, the city suspects that some criminals may be intentionally disabling streetlights to steal electronic parts, while others believe the darkness invites crime. Others say it’s a combination of both; criminals internationally cloak a street in darkness so they can carry out an illegal deed.

“When the lights go off, the shooting starts,” said Englewood resident Romona Burwell. “The next thing you know, there’s the police.”

Burwell added that the exposed wiring on some of the lights makes it easy for somebody to disable the light in a matter of seconds.

“They just reach up in and pull it down,” said Burwell.

Streetlight Data

The report also examined how quickly streetlight outages are fixed across the city. They found, on average:

  • It took 5 days to repair a block of downed streetlights.
  • It took 11 days to fix a broken streetlight if it was the only light out on the block.
  • Alley light outages took 15 days to replace.
  • Less than one percent of the city’s 327,000 streetlights are down on any given evening.
  • Battery increased 18% when an entire block of streetlights were disabled.
  • Theft, drug crimes and criminal damage to property also increased when the lights were out.

“We would look at the crime rate during the outage and then we would look at the crime rate in the exact same area but for periods just before and just after the outage occurred, so that way each area served as its own control and that made for a clean analysis,” Ph.D. student Zach Seeskin said of the study.

CDOT spokesperson Peter Scales said the study shows how important it is to fix streetlights as quickly as possible, especially when the whole block is affected.

“The conclusions of the study confirmed the practice we already have in place, which prioritizes the repair of full blocks of downed lights over single outages,” concluded Scales.

Related source: NBC News

Chicago Cops To Add Extra Patrols in Crime-Riddled Neighborhoods

police patrols chicagoAs we made mention last week, when temperatures rise, so too does crime in many Chicago neighborhoods. To combat violence in high-crime areas, the Chicago Police Department announced that it will add extra police patrols and overtime hours.

“The summer months is our busy season,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in an interview with the Associated Press. “And we have to ramp up our response to violence in the city.”

McCarthy noted that added patrols will be part of the “Summer Surge” initiative designed to reduce the number of homicides in the city. Chicago had more than 500 homicides before the added patrols were instituted last year. Although Chicago still led the nation in homicides in 2013, the number dropped to 415.

Budgeted Overtime

Last year’s program resulted in over $100 million in overtime pay to officers added to the dangerous patrols, and the city hopes to cut back on that number in 2014. $70 million is budgeted for overtime pay this summer, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel “has made it very clear if we need more overtime for initiatives, he will find a way to fund it,” said McCarthy.

The Chicago Transit Authority, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Housing Authority will help finance the overtime pay. The added patrols can’t start soon enough, as at least 30 people have been shot and 16 have been killed on three consecutive weekends.

In addition to the added patrols, police will be partaking in what they call “custom notifications” to reach out to high-risk members of the community. Officers will knock on the doors of known gang members and their family members to let them know that there will be more eyes on their activities, and that the violence has to stop.

Criminal Defense attorney Brett Appelman commended the city for taking a harsher stance against crime.

“Police officers sometimes get a bad rap, but patrolling high-crime areas and going door-to-door is no safe task,” said Appelman. “I hope that by the end of 2014 we once again see a reduction in homicides and other violent acts.

Related source: Lubbock Online

Alleged Rapist, Murderer Released after Prosecution Drops Charges

CC image Wikipedia.orgTwo Illinois men, one serving time on a rape charge, the other serving 82 years for his role in a fatal shooting, were released from prison Tuesday after prosecutors dropped the charges against both men.

Carl Chatman and Lathierial Boyd were ordered to be released immediately after deeper investigations into their cases revealed that there was a strong likelihood the men were innocent.

Sound Familiar?

Rape is one of the most heinous crimes a person can commit, and oftentimes these trials come down to a “he said, she said” argument. In the case of Carl Chatman, a homeless man with a history of mental illness, the jury chose to believe the story of the alleged victim, even though there was no physical evidence to tie him to the crime.

Although the victim said Chatman sexually assaulted her, authorities never found any DNA or evidence of sexual assault on the victim, and nobody reported seeing the man in the building where the alleged attack took place. Authorities caught a break in the case when Chatman admitted to committing the crime, but doctors who analyzed the homeless man said he suffered from schizophrenia and had a low IQ, which made him susceptible to providing a false confession.

What’s disturbing about the case is what was later uncovered by a deeper investigation. It was revealed that the rape claim came only weeks after the victim was served an audit by the IRS, and Chatman’s attorney said the victim also had thousands of dollars in casino losses.

“There was no rape. This never happened,” said Russell Ainsworth, who represented Chatman during his appeal. “This was fabricated by a vindictive woman who did this for monetary gain.”

In fact, this wasn’t the first time the woman claimed to be raped by someone who had little means to defend themselves. The woman claimed a janitor raped her in 1979, and the similarities between the alleged assaults are striking. In both cases:

  • The victim arrived at work early in order to take care of some extra business.
  • She claims a man threatened her with a weapon (in one case, a scissors, in the other, a knife) when she was alone at the office.
  • The defendants said they believed the allegations were motivated by money.
  • The victim sued for monetary damages after the criminal charges were brought.

In the 1979 claim, the victim was a Polish national who fled the United States before his trial. Before leaving, he penned a note to the judge, strongly asserting his innocence. He claimed he only fled because he could not possibly raise the money that would be required to defend himself in court, and he said he believed the claim was an attempt by the victim to get a quick paycheck.

“If she only made this whole thing up to make some money, she should earn money honestly and not like this,” the janitor’s letter said.

The woman later reached a settlement with the county building commission and a private security firm that was tasked with guarding the building during the first assault. One of the defense attorneys who worked on the case said his team concluded the woman made a false accusation, but they were never able to prove it.

Ainsworth said the second rape charge should have raised many red flags when it was first brought to court.

“It just seemed odd that both rapes were under almost identical circumstances,” he said.

Who Pulled the Trigger?

Lathieral Boyd was sentenced to 82 years in prison in 1990 after a jury ruled he killed one man and injured another over a drug debt. The strongest evidence against Boyd was provided by the wounded man, who initially told police he didn’t know who shot him, but later changed his story and said it was Boyd.

Furthermore, when Boyd was placed in a police lineup, none of the nine witnesses identified Boyd as the shooter. He claimed he was at his sister’s home watching a basketball game at the time of the shooting, and both his sister and a Cook County sheriff’s deputy testified to Boyd’s presence at the home, yet the jury still convicted him.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the decision to vacate the conviction was due in large part to a separate investigation launched by the Conviction Integrity Unit, which works to reverse wrongful convictions.

“Above all else, our work as prosecutors is about seeking justice even if that measure of justice means that we must acknowledge failures of the past,” she said.

Sean Sullivan comments

What troubles me most about the cases is the startling lack of evidence in them. I am at a loss to understand how the cases were brought in the first place. Reasonable doubt is a term everyone knows from television and movies, but I do not think people truly know what it means in the context of a criminal trial. It means if there is any reason or uncertainty as to any fact proving someone is guilty of a crime, then the case should be dismissed. In these cases, there seems to multiple instances of reasonable doubt.

Particularly so in the case of Mr. Boyd. He should have been cleared as a suspect early in the investigation such that his case should never have gone to trial. He had a solid alibi confirmed by credible witnesses, and was never identified by any witness despite participating in multiple lineups. It is awful to think that innocent men can be imprisoned.

Related source: Chicago Tribune