Chicago ended 2017 with fewer homicides than the year before, but gang violence in the city's most unsafe neighborhoods kept the total number of killings above the 600 mark for only the second time in more than a decade.
Homicides in Chicago were 670 in 2017, down 16 percent from 792 in 2016, according to data published Monday by the Chicago Tribune.
In overall shootings, Chicago reached more than 3,500, down from the more than 4,300 of 2017 but up from the more than 2,900 of 2015.
Chicago Police officials say they were able to make progress in stemming violence with the launch of what they've dubbed Strategic Decision Support Centers - data driven nerve centers that the department says have helped it more quickly respond to shootings and help officers predict where the next incident may occur. Meanwhile, gun arrests increased 27 percent and police reported seizing more than 8,600 illegal weapons.
New York, Chicago and Washington all experienced significant declines in homicides in 2017, though the murder rate rose in Baltimore, Md., amid drug problems and lingering racial tensions.
The city faced its first murder just four hours and 25 minutes into 2017.
Chicago initiated police reforms in 2017 after a federal investigation found officers routinely violated people's civil rights, citing excessive force and racially discriminatory conduct.
"We all know that we came off a disgusting 2016 and we made a commitment to the city to not repeat that in 2017". The numbers differ because, unlike the Tribune, the department does not count homicides on expressways as well as fatal shootings by police officers and homicides considered justified.
In 2017, more than 1,100 new police officers were hired and the entire department was trained on a revised use of force policy, according to Chicago police.
"You still have to start with the fact that 600 people dead in Chicago is a hell of a lot of people to be dead in one year", said the Rev. Marshall Hatch, whose church is in one of the most violent neighborhoods on the city's West Side.
Crime fell by 43 percent in Englewood district and 26 percent in Harrison, the first two districts to employ so-called Strategic Decision Support Centers, police said.
"I am proud of the progress our officers made in reducing gun violence all across the city in 2017, but none of us are satisfied", Johnson said in a statement.
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