While Chicago overall still is struggling with a violent crime problem, the neighborhood of Englewood has cut homicides and shootings nearly in half. Getting the credit is an effort by residents to work closely with the police.
Chicago has made impressive strides toward becoming a safer place. Even as it struggles with spates of violence such as during the first weekend in August – when more than 75 people were shot and 12 died – the city has steadily reduced the number of shootings over the past two years, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Even as Chicago has seen a steady decline in violence, the South Side neighborhood of Englewood has cut its homicides and shootings by nearly double the rate seen citywide, reducing them by nearly half – the equivalent of saving 21 lives. In 2017, the neighborhood saw the lowest level of gun violence since the police department started keeping records in 1999.
The key to the reductions, researchers and residents say, has been the coming together of community members and police officers targeting the people and places most plagued by violence. Mothers sit out on the most violent corners, police officials have reinvented how they deploy officers and work with the community, and a coalition of organizations provides therapy and job training to the men who are most likely to shoot or be shot. And while gun violence remains a problem in this neighborhood, with 29 murders in the first seven months of this year, the decline in violent crime is starting to be felt by people in the hardest-hit areas. Many say it takes a community-wide effort. “You can’t just expect policing to solve it. That’s not going to work,” says Tonika Johnson, who helps lead the neighborhood’s Public Safety Task Force. “You can’t just expect residents to be able to work alone to solve it. It really has to be a combination of things.”