After dramatic spike, Chicago homicides slow down
In addition, police have put gangs on notice that killings will trigger a crackdown for the smallest offenses. That message appears to have gotten through.
In Englewood, one of the city’s most violent neighborhoods, homicides have fallen more than 40 percent this year. But the number of shootings has stayed flat, a possible indication that gangs are shooting to injure rather than kill.
An expert who has studied and written about Chicago’s violence said it is too early to draw conclusions about a single year’s worth of statistics. But he said the police audit strategy was ‘‘absolutely’’ correct.
‘‘This is a huge step in the right direction,’’ said Andrew Papachristos, an associate professor of sociology at Yale University.
Meanwhile, residents of some of the city’s most violent and gang-plagued neighborhoods are writing down license plates of suspicious vehicles and stepping outside as a message to gang members and drug dealers that they are watching.
Between January and August, 294 block clubs were formed in Chicago to join the 463 that were in place last year, according to police.
‘‘More people are outside on their block talking to each other, and that’s very encouraging to me,’’ said Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and activist on the city’s South Side.
Elce Redmond, a community activist on the West Side, has seen residents cleaning up vacant lots, planting community gardens and boarding up abandoned buildings to prevent gang members and drug dealers from getting inside.
Many neighborhoods are still plagued by a ‘‘no-snitch’’ attitude among residents who don’t trust police, but cracks may be showing.
Emma Mitts, a West Side alderman whose ward includes some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods, said she is receiving more notes from residents with information about drug dealing and other problems — a signal to her that residents want to clean things up even if they don’t trust police.
‘‘I'm the buffer between them and the police,’’ she said.