CHICAGO, IL – Chicago’s rising homicide rate spiked on Tuesday with a murder-suicide that left three people dead and three more bodies found in a car.
Police Supt. Jody Weis knows that he will ultimately find himself on the hotseat for the surge. But, he’s got a new defense.
He’s creating a new category of “indoor” homicides — and downplaying what police can do about them..
“Those homicides that are outdoors — the ones that I do believe we have a good possibility of preventing — we’re around 98 homicides for Chicago outdoors. That’s as low as it’s ever been, except for 2007, when I believe we had 97 homicides outdoors as of this date,” he said.
“The ones that are outdoors we really should be able to have an impact on. … Today’s tragedy … is sad. Three people are dead. But, when it’s inside a house, it’s hard for police to have an impact on that. I wish we could. I just don’t see where we can.”
Not only is Weis making the distinction between indoor and outdoor homicides. He has asked the Chicago Police Department to keep those statistics in separate categories.
Through Monday, there were 40 indoor homicides in Chicago and 98 murders outdoors for a total of 138.
During the same period last year, there were 31 indoor homicides and 105 murders outdoors for a total of 136.
Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) has her hands full combating a surge of homicides in the South Side’s Gresham District.
She was also forced to lock or take down the basketball rims at Chatham’s Cole Park after two shootings at the courts in one month left several young people wounded.
Not surprisingly, Lyle draws no such distinction between indoor and outdoor homicides.
“I understand the logic — that police would have no way to know about what goes on inside peoples’ homes. But, I don’t necessarily believe that becomes a separate category when you’re talking about the number of people murdered in a city. The average citizen doesn’t make that distinction,” she said.
“I understand that what would go on inside my house this evening the superintendent would have no way of knowing and no way to intervene if there was an incident. But, it doesn’t diminish the numbers.”
Lyle said she’s grown “immune to the numbers game” being played with Chicago’s crime statistics.
“It doesn’t bother me. They do press conferences releasing reports that say homicides have gone down citywide. What I have to deal with is a community that knows that, maybe they’ve gone down citywide, but they’re up in my community,” she said.
“Crime is up tremendously in the 6th District. … That’s because crime has moved as housing patterns have moved. [But], there’s been no real acknowledgement that crime has moved with the migration of people” tied to the so-called “Plan for Transformation” that demolished CHA high-rises.
Rev. Marshall Hatch, chairman of the Leaders Network, said it’s “not helpful” for Weis to “make those kinds of distinctions” between indoor and outdoor homicides.
“Whether the murders happen inside or outside, we expect the police to take responsibility for solving and preventing crime,” Hatch said, pastor of the New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in West Garfield Park.
“I don’t think that’s a useful distinction for the superintendent to make. I don’t think it sends the right kind of signal about the sense of responsibility we want the police to have.”
But Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council’s Police Committee, said has no problem with the superintendent’s new category of homicides.
“Outside, you have witnesses. People are more apt to call the police. Inside the house, it’s almost impossible to prevent,” Beale said.
“We want to prevent any kind of crime. We want to prevent all of ‘em. But, if a person wants to do something inside a residence, it’s almost like a suicide bomber. It’s impossible to prevent somebody from blowing themselves up.”