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On October 1, the Chicago Police Department released new crime statistics. Mainstream media outlet, WLS-TV Chicago, reported the murder rate is the lowest in 50 years, however, the city’s reported murder total is often more than 15% lower than new media resources.

Chicago police released new crime statistics overnight, saying the city closed the first nine months of the year with the fewest murders to date in nearly 50 years.

There have been 22 fewer homicides, 78 more shootings and 114 more shooting victims from January through September of 2014 compared to the first three quarters of 2013.

That’s a 7 percent decrease in murders, a 5 percent increase in shooting incidents and a 6 percent increase in shooting victims. Overall crime was down 14 percent in the first nine months of 2014.

The end of September 2014 marked eight consecutive quarters of murder reduction, police said. In the last two years, 129 fewer homicides occurred. That’s a 14 percent reduction in the murder rate for that time period.

But their statistics are questionable when compared to new media sources like HeyJackass, a site that keeps real time crime statistics in the city. HeyJackass compiles their statistics from Chicago TribuneChicago Sun-TimesDNAInfo ChicagoChicago Redeye Homicide TrackerNBC5 ChicagoCity of Chicago Data Portal and CPD CLEARMAP.

Chicago Magazine has also questioned how the statistics reported are even possible.

Current and former officers and several criminologists say they can’t understand how a cash-strapped and undermanned department—one that by its own admission has been focusing most of its attention and resources on combating shootings and murders and protecting schoolchildren in a few very violent neighborhoods—could achieve such astounding results. “God Almighty! It’s just not possible,” opines a retired high-ranking officer who reviewed the department’s statistics.

The magazine uncovered that there are crimes that are no longer being included in the statistics, other crimes that are reported as lesser crimes and multiple incidents being reported as one.

Documents and interviews reveal how this may be happening. First, on McCarthy’s watch, the department quietly changed several bedrock crime reporting and scoring policies. For example, in the statistics it compiles and shares with the public on its website each week, it stopped including certain crimes that had been counted in the past.

Second, many police sources say they have been pressured by superiors—explicitly and implicitly—to underreport crime. There are, according to an expert source on the department’s statistics, potentially “a million tiny ways to do it”—including misclassifying and downgrading offenses, counting multiple incidents as single events, and making it more difficult for people to report crimes or actively discouraging them from doing so.

Finally, some of the drop is simply a byproduct of reduced manpower. Many officers say that their ranks have become so depleted that they can’t respond to all 911 calls. It’s like the proverbial tree falling in the empty forest: no victim, no report, no crime.

The Chicago Police Department reports 285 homicides for the year as of September 21, however HeyJackass! reports 337 homicides to date – 2 1/2 weeks worth of additional data.

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