Violent crime is running rampant in the city of Chicago, with the number of homicides and shootings doubling in the first two months of the year compared to the same time period in 2015.
There were 95 homicides in Chicago in January and February, matching the same number of killings in 1999. The only year that has seen a higher homicide death toll was 1997, when there were 101 killings in the first two months of the year. That year closed out with 761 homicides. Meanwhile, last year there were 51 homicides in Chicago during the first two months of 2015.
The Chicago Police Department blamed gangs for the spike in the number of homicides in the city this year, which were concentrated on city's South and West Sides.
"While the Chicago Police Department is taking action to keep our communities safe, gun violence driven primarily by gang conflicts remained at an unacceptable level in February," CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said via statement. "The level of violence is unacceptable and CPD continues to aggressively target those responsible, especially in neighborhoods where gang activity is most active."
When it comes to the number shootings this year, at least 467 people have been shot in city, according to the Chicago Tribune, while there had been only 217 shootings during the same time period last year.
There are rumblings that the massive increase in gun violence has to do with law enforcement officers being more lax on crime as a result of the public outcry following the public release of the police dash-cam video of the LaQuan McDonald shooting.
"I'm hearing that police are standing down because they're afraid what might happen to them, that when they get a call, they wait to see if someone answers it first," said Fr. Michael Pfleger of the South Side's St. Sabina Church. "I get really angry about that. If they are not going to do police work, they need to get out."
Police are also making fewer stops as a result of an agreement the department made with the ACLU on stop-and-frisk practices, which require officers to provide more information on stops they make that do not lead to arrests. The new rules, which also call on the department to better monitor such stops, went into effect at the start of 2016.