Matt Finn, Fox News, March 2, 2016
The city of Chicago is witnessing its deadliest start to a year in nearly two decades–102 people have been killed and 475 people were shot in the city since January 1st.
The official police homicide count sits at 97, which includes only murders as opposed to what police consider justified homicides such as self-defense. 2016 is the most violent start to a year in the city since 1997, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Police blame some of the surge in violence on gang conflicts and retaliatory crimes, many of which officers now say begin on social media before spilling out onto the streets.
To complicate matters, the hubs of Chicago’s crime, the city’s west and south sides, potentially have become even more dangerous as the so-called “Ferguson Effect” is impacting how police patrol the streets. Analysts say officers are engaging less out of a fear of lawsuits or being labeled racist. Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in October 2015 that officers have become “fetal.”
Adding to the Ferguson Effect, the Chicago Police Department is also dealing with an “ACLU effect.” In an exclusive new agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union, Chicago Police officers are now required to fill out a two-page contact card after every engagement ranging from a simple ID check to an arrest.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police says the ACLU contact cards are burdensome and officers worry the compiled statistics could somehow be misconstrued and used against them. As a result, Chicago Police reported officers engaged a staggering 80 percent less in the month of January.
“They don’t want to be the next headline,” Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President, Dean Angelo, told Fox News. “It’s the amount of the above and beyond type of activity that officers were engaged in that we may not see at that same level ever again.”