This year’s Memorial Day weekend in Chicago saw a total of 49 people shot on Friday evening and Monday night. Despite the decrease from last year’s figures, the police claim to have made slow progress in reducing Chicago’s high murder rate through technology that helps commanders better deploy street cops. Seven people were killed and 61 injured last year.
Chicago has so far recorded 235 murders since the year started, compared to 244 for the same time period in 2016. Shooting incidents have dropped more significantly to 1,047 compared to 1,222 last year, according to police department data.
The greatest drops in the number of shooting incidents have occurred in two of the city’s historically most violent districts where the department opened its first data-driven nerve centers in January. The centers use hyper-local video, sensors and other technology to help officers more quickly respond to shootings and help predict where the next incident might occur.
The pilot program was deployed in a Westside district where it tallied 23 murders compared to 33 at the same point last year, and 112 shooting incidents compared to 182. In a South Side district that also uses the technology, the number of murders dropped to 21 from 27, while shooting incidents decreased to 83 from 116 compared to the same point last year.
The majority of the 762 murders and more than 4000 shooting incidents in Chicago last year occurred in a few predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the city’s West and South Sides. The shootings were driven by gang-related feuds and drug wars.
The ShotSpotter technology involves sensors that several big city police departments use to help detect gunfire and increases the number of remote-controlled police cameras in the pilot areas by 25%.
Data from the ShotSpotter sensors and the remote videos are immediately accessible to cops on the streets via smartphones. The department found ShotSpotter sensors, on average, detect shootings five minutes ahead of when dispatchers first receive citizen reports.