by Sean Kennedy
The record-setting violence in Chicago is even worse than announced as new evidence shows the city suffered 50 more homicides last year than the numbers publicly reported in the past week.
The city posted a decades-high homicide count of 812 in 2016, per the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. That’s 15% greater than the 762 murders reported by the city's police department.
The discrepancy is largely due to the fact that the county tallies “homicides” while the police number counts “murders.” Murders are defined as violent acts subject to criminal prosecution. Homicides, according to the medical examiner, include instances “when the death of a person comes at the hand of another person. This does not imply that all homicides are murders that would be subject to criminal prosecution.”
The city police count is also lower because it excludes violent, intentional deaths if the act is deemed justified, including police killings of residents.
Per the county’s count, homicides rose 54% in 2016 over 2015 when Chicago had 528 deaths determined to be homicides.
Gun violence is the leading cause of death for victims of homicide in Chicago with 725 decedents being felled by at least one gunshot wound.
African Americans also bore the brunt of the violence in Cook County, which includes Chicago. They accounted for 710 of the county-wide total of 915 (88% of which occurred in the city). Men comprised 90% of the homicide victims in the county.
Other cities saw similar increases in homicides per a recently released FBI data. Cities with over one million inhabitants saw murder rise by 21.6% in the first half of 2016 over the first half of 2015, when homicide jumped in most urban centers after decades of falling murder rates.
Murder, per the FBI, is different than homicide. The former is defined as “murder and non-negligent manslaughter as the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another.”
The distinction accounts for some of the discrepancy between the police department’s official count of 762 and the medical examiner’s report of 812 in the city. The remainder may be due to jurisdictional issues (such as a murder occurring within city limits but under the jurisdiction of a different agency like the Illinois State Police) and victims’ dying in the following calendar year (12 individuals died in 2016 from assaults in previous calendar years per the Chicago Sun-Times.)