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Among the country’s ten largest cities, Chicago has the most police officers per capita and most murders per capita

Tuesday, Jun 23, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Governing Magazine

Cities’ police officer per capita rates vary depending on a range of factors. In 2016, police departments serving cities with populations exceeding 25,000 employed an average of 16.8 officers and 21.4 total personnel for every 10,000 residents.

* I looked at the ten most populous American cities and what follows is a ranking in order of police officers per 10,000 population according to Governing. The numbers in parentheses are murder and nonnegligent manslaughter per 100,000 people per year

Chicago 43.9 (24.13)
New York City 42.3 (3.39)
Philadelphia 40.2 (20.06)
Dallas 24.8 (12.48)
Los Angeles 24.6 (7.01)
Houston 22.2 (11.50)
Austin 18.9 (2.57)
Phoenix 17.4 (9.55)
San Antonio 14.4 (8.15)
San Diego 12.8 (2.46)
San Jose 9.0 (3.08)

Chicago ranks first in both categories.

* Now, keep in mind that the above police force numbers are from 2016

Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan in 2016 to increase the number of police officers by 1,000 over two years in response to a significant increase in gun violence that year. At the end of 2018 the City announced that its hiring plan was complete, with more patrol officers, detectives and leadership positions (sergeants and lieutenants). By 2019, the Police Department had about 1,200 more budgeted positions than it had in 2016.

So, Chicago’s per capita police officer numbers are even higher than the above chart shows.

* From yesterday’s press conference by Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown

During his news conference, Brown also rejected a notion popular with University of Chicago criminologists who work closely with the police department. He said the violence cannot be blamed on easy access to guns.

“I’m from Texas,” Brown said, noting that state’s high number of firearms. “Houston, San Antonio and Dallas have lower murder rates.”

He said that shows it would be possible for Chicago to tamp down its infamous gun violence.

The key, Brown said, is building a public safety infrastructure that combines policing, street outreach work and investments in poor neighborhoods. He said that collaboration is just getting off the ground and is “obviously not mature.”

The overall story was basically a hit piece on Brown. But as I told subscribers this morning, the “street outreach work” is actually a sophisticated and do-able approach to addressing this problem

An epidemiologist by training, [Dr. Gary Slutkin] is the executive director of Cure Violence. Cure Violence is a Chicago-based non-profit organization founded in 2000 by Slutkin in affiliation with the University of Illinois–Chicago School of Public Health.

Dr. Slutkin asserts that gun violence is an infectious disease. Like tuberculosis, gun violence exhibits the following definitional signs and symptoms of infectious disease:

    • Contagion: one event leads to another which leads to another
    • Predictive morbidity (injury) and mortality (death)
    • Pattern distribution: it spreads in predictable ways
    • Pattern disruption: targeted interventions can slow and reverse its spread

Accordingly, Cure Violence treats violence as an infectious disease. The organization goes to violent urban neighborhoods where it intervenes to interrupt gun violence and limit its spread.

The organization operates in over 30 cities worldwide and reduces violence by pursuing three well-defined strategies:

    • Detecting and interrupting conflicts;
    • Identifying and treating high-risk individuals; and
    • Changing social norms

Until March 2015, Cure Violence operated in 14 high-risk Chicago neighborhoods. They embedded trained “violence interrupters” and “behavioral change agents” within high-risk communities. These trained professionals identify signs of impending violence and intervene to cool tempers, buy time and shift perspectives. Their “signal” network includes local organizations (e.g. hospitals) to identify signs of brewing trouble. [Emphasis added.]

And then Gov. Bruce Rauner zero-funded the effort with all too predictable results.


  1. - Mayo sandwich - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 12:57 pm:

    Illinois needs to be a duty to retreat state instead of a stand your ground state to prevent 6.8% of its homicides.
    Illinois need a witness protection program to put bad guys in prison and to prevent additional crime.
    Illinois needs to increase funding for mental health as 60% of all gun deaths nationwide are suicides.
    How do we afford that? How do we afford the status quo? Annual cost of gun deaths is 7.2 billion a year. We need to shake a leg.

  2. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:05 pm:

    === Until March 2015, Cure Violence operated in 14 high-risk Chicago neighborhoods. They embedded trained “violence interrupters” and “behavioral change agents” within high-risk communities.===
    And didn’t violence erupt like crazy after that year? Bruce didn’t want to fund it because he saw no proof it worked. Makes you wonder.

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    ===And didn’t violence erupt like crazy after that year?===


  4. - Lynn S. - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:10 pm:

    If I recall correctly, when Cure Violence and the interrupters were refunded, Chicago FOP was ecstatic.

    FOP didn’t like the Interrupters because so many of them were former gang members. Jeff Fort’s daughter was an Interrupter.

  5. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:12 pm:

    ===were refunded, Chicago FOP was ecstatic===

    I think you meant defunded. And yes, that would be correct.

  6. - Lynn S. - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:12 pm:


    (God, how I hate predictive text (multiple banned punctuations)).

  7. - logic not emotion - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:12 pm:

    Well… We certainly don’t need to be a duty to retreat state unless we want to increase overall violence.

  8. - Undercover - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:13 pm:

    Pretty difficult to stop the violence when too many in the community won’t help the police, while the majority of good people suffer in silence. Need to work with the police, not against. Where are the protesters?? More lives lost to this violence as opposed to the false narrative that the police are to blame.

  9. - Lynn S. - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:14 pm:

    Thanks, Rich.

    (Great minds think alike?)

  10. - Montrose - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:17 pm:

    So we could move money from the police - let’s just call it, oh, defunding - to reduce the number of officers and use that money to scale up proven violence prevention efforts. HUh. That idea just might catch on.

  11. - Mayo sandwich - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    Sorry mate you have that backwards. Here’s the study.

  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    ===too many in the community won’t help the police===

    1) If this problem is unique to Chicago, shouldn’t we find out why?

    2) If this problem is not unique to Chicago, shouldn’t we find out why Chicago’s murder rate is so high?

  13. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:29 pm:

    Even though appreciative of the article, it doesn’t even scratch the surface. For example, the sworn officer to civilian ratio is 7:3 for NYPD but 12:1 for CPD. Does CPD have sworn officers doing jobs NYPD has civilianized, or are there tasks performed by NYPD that CPD doesn’t do? While LAPD has always been under-resourced (CPD has 48 officers per 10K population, LAPD has 32 officers), how much of that is enabled by helicopters? It would take several doctoral theses to tease out the facts from all the data.

  14. - Lynn S. - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:30 pm:

    @ logic not emotion,

    You might want to stop swilling that NRA Kool-Aide, and get out of your basement more often.

    “Stand your ground” was cooked up by the NRA about 15-20 years ago. It’s one of the motives George Zimmerman used when he killed Trayvon Martin.

    “Duty to retreat” comes to us from English common law. It’s the legal doctrine that “stand your ground” laws seek to supersede.

  15. - Mayo sandwich - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:34 pm:

    “ Pretty difficult to stop the violence when too many in the community won’t help the police, while the majority of good people suffer in silence. Need to work with the police, not against.”
    Because “too many in the community” don’t want to die. That’s why we need a robust witness protection program.

  16. - Flapdoodle - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:39 pm:

    ==Well… We certainly don’t need to be a duty to retreat state unless we want to increase overall violence.==

    Following up on Mayo sandwich’s post with excellent link to RAND study, from practical point of view, the best fight is the one that doesn’t happen. Because two things happen in any fight: your odds of getting hurt, or hurting someone else, become greater than zero, along with your odds of doing jail time. No duty to retreat just increases those odds. (I carry and will do most anything to avoid a fight.)

  17. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:47 pm:

    Chicago’s history of violence is like the state’s budget gap.

    We’ve known about the problem for years, there are experts who have identified numerous causes and numerous solutions that can provide the data and evidence to support those solutions, but elected leadership finds those solutions to be inconvenient or the body politic at large would rather not make the effort required to address it.

    Add to that bias or racism that exists throughout Illinois, and you’re looking at a problem that is hard to get broad bipartisan support to actually fix and address.

    Especially when some folks specifically campaign on “policy positions” that benefit from the problem existing, and provide no solutions to those issues.

    So of course a rich white guy didn’t see benefit to a program that was actually working. I’m not saying Bruce Rauner’s a racist, but we saw a lot of examples of a very rich white man that didn’t know how to discuss or address issues of race when he was in office.

    I hope we get meaningful reform and funding for that reform out of our state elected officials.

    I hope we get that reform without a legislator from Central or Southern Illinois making an updated version of a “Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever” speech.

  18. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:53 pm:

    Many of the most privileged tell POC to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and swallow tough love, while lavishing the wealthiest with huge tax cuts and other breaks. This is something fundamental that needs to change.

    Bruce Rauner is a poster child of the problem, his income skyrocketing while cutting violence prevention programs, ripping off state workers and attacking unions. There are many POC who rely on their unions to boost their standards of living.

  19. - JoanP - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 1:56 pm:

    =So we could move money from the police - let’s just call it, oh, defunding - to reduce the number of officers and use that money to scale up proven violence prevention efforts.=

    Might want to read this:

  20. - "Old Timer Dem" - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:02 pm:

    I would think Mayor Lightfoot isn’t too happy about her new Police Supt insinuating that guns in the hands of the public is helpful in preventing crime. That is a Texas mentality through and through.

  21. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:04 pm:

    === insinuating that guns in the hands of the public is helpful===

    Stop. He didn’t insinuate that.

  22. - JoanP - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:04 pm:

    @Lynn S -

    Kind of hard to retreat when someone is on top of you bashing your head into the ground.

  23. - Montrose - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:05 pm:

    *=So we could move money from the police - let’s just call it, oh, defunding - to reduce the number of officers and use that money to scale up proven violence prevention efforts.=

    Might want to read this:*

    I just did. I didn’t see anything about that city increasing investments in violence prevention and social services. No one calling for defunding is calling for a one sided reduction in policing. They are calling for money to be moved to more effective tools and resources.

  24. - yinn - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:29 pm:

    There’s a program called CAHOOTS in which calls for service to police are screened for mental health crises and, in those cases, medics and counselors are sent out (instead of, or in addition to, law enforcement). It’s worked for decades in Eugene, Oregon, and there are pilot programs elsewhere. Chicago is said to be exploring a similar program to pilot.

    This article talks about various cities’ alternatives to law enforcement for jobs that don’t require it.

  25. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:38 pm:

    ===POC to pull themselves up by their bootstraps===

    Whenever I hear this, I think of the physics involved and imagine folks blowing in their own sails to move their ship forward.

    I’m not sure how widely known it is that when the use of the term originates in literature/historical documents in the early 19th century, “to pull oneself up by their bootstraps” was an idiom to describe an impossible task at a person was not going to succeed at.

    The meaning of the idiom to be literal advice to do something without aid from others in the early 20th century. Regardless, I think that anyone being told to pull themselves up by their bootstraps understands that they’re being told to get bent.

    The use of the term by whites specifically addressed to people of color comes out of Booker T Washington using the term in a speech known as the “Atlanta Compromise” that he gave to a bunch of white cotton industry folks. “The Atlanta Compromise” was in the most basic terms an unwritten agreement that black folks would accommodate racism, Jim Crow, lack of voting rights, etc, in exchange for an end to racial violence. The speech was made in 1895, and obviously the racial terrorism didn’t end, including the 1906 Atlanta Massacre.

    So, when a white person evokes “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or something similar to a black person they are parroting a speech that was given in an effort to accept 2nd class citizenship in exchange for the racial terrorism ending. This is something I specifically learned about in a college level history course and I realize that very few folks would be aware of this history.

    I just wanted to share because using that term is the equivalent of telling a black person to “mind their place” and I think the use of it often represents an unconscious bias passed down from generation to generation without being aware of the origins of it — or even worse, removing the context of Booker T Washington’s speech from the quote and pretending like it’s a good thing.

  26. - Father Ted - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:40 pm:

    I appreciate the intent of the study, but this isn’t something than can be adequately explained away using data science. There are far too many variables with respect to local police forces having effective leadership, effective training, good morale and supported by other parts of the criminal justice system being on the same page. None of these is something the Chicago Police Department can hang its hat on.

  27. - City Guy - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:44 pm:

    In regards to the people not wanting to help the police, they may have legitimate concerns with providing assistance. It goes back over a decade but a friend who lived in a high crime neighborhood told me that after she called in gangbanger activity, the police would drive up her street with a spot light on addresses so they could find the right one. Then they would ask over their loud speaker if the person who called in the complaint could step outside to talk to them.

    Additionally, how many of the police are aligned with the gangs in some way? I don’t have any evidence about gang connections, but I can sure point to some examples of Mob-connected police. Look up Chief of Dectives William Hanhardt for a story that should be a movie.

  28. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:46 pm:

    The stand your ground vs. duty to retreat argument seems peripheral to the problem in Chicago.

    We partially defunded the police when we created DCFS. They took over cases that would have been handled by the police. Clearly, that solution has problems of its own.

    DCFS used to act as truant officers. They stopped that. Now we have cops in schools. Don’t know enough about the details of those decisions, but they are counter intuitive to me.

    Chicago seems to have a subculture whee violence is normal. It reminds me of feuds, like the Hatfields vs, McCoys. To stop the feud you have to change the culture.

  29. - Blue Dog Dem - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:49 pm:

    seeing these horrific statistics, I can’t imagine how bad they would be if we didn’t have the FOID system in place.

  30. - Mama - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:51 pm:

    What caused 106 people to be shot with 14 deaths in Chicago last weekend? Gang wars?

  31. - GregN - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:03 pm:

    Adding to City Guy above:
    Just had this conversation a week ago with a POC. He said when the cops turn in THEIR own for crimes against the community, he’ll start too.
    Can’t be a one way street.

  32. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:06 pm:

    I’ve never thought more police stop crime. These stats help reinforce the feeling.

    You have to start funding programs mentioned above. You need to be able to provide someone to go first to listen and help in some situations before the police have to come and eventually use force.

    There is so much good that could be done here and I don’t think it costs anymore money than what is being done right now. I hope we take this moment in time and actually try fix things.

  33. - Fly like an eagle - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:14 pm:

    == What caused 106 people to be shot with 14 deaths in Chicago last weekend? Gang wars?==
    Maybe, or love triangles, vigilantes, domestic violence, suicides. If we get Cure Violence back that would be a good thing but it won’t help every shooting. We need a multi pronged approach.

  34. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:14 pm:

    CPD definitely has too many sergeants, lieutenants, and other higher ups.

  35. - Change Agent - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:15 pm:

    Cure Violence is not the only street outreach game in town. In response to the 2016 violence spike, a number of community-based organizations came together to offer high quality evidence-based street outreach programs. In contrast to Cure Violence, they view violence prevention as a collaborative effort and haven’t been plagued by allegations of unaddressed sexual misconduct by employees.

  36. - Lynn S. - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:20 pm:

    @Last Bull Moose,

    Those “cops in schools” were brought in “to get rid of drugs”.

    Mission creep explains a good chunk of why they stayed.

    (And before you say, “but DARE program”, just remember that when someone actually studied kids in DARE vs. kids not in DARE, they found that the kids in DARE were more likely–not less– to use drugs.

  37. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:37 pm:

    ===kids in DARE were more likely–not less– to use drugs===

    My campus DARE leader at SSU was a total pothead.

  38. - Roland - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    They said we should ban guns because we have the police. Now they want to defund the police.

  39. - Lynn S. - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:48 pm:


    They had DARE on college campuses? First time I’ve heard of it, and from some of the references you make, I would guess you and I are within 10 years of each other.

  40. - Old School - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:50 pm:

    There isn’t an easy answer to Urban violence.
    Three basic things:
    1. If someone shoots a gun during the act of a crime make the punishment stiff enough so they won’t want to take the chance.
    2. Take the money out of the crime.
    3. Teach a better way to have hope….JOB

  41. - Muddy trail - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:54 pm:

    ==They said we should ban guns because we have the police. Now they want to defund the police.==
    Doubt it’s the same “they,” but then “they” say lots of things don’t “they.”

  42. - Fresh ideas - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 4:27 pm:

    Seems to be a punchline quite frequently these days…’this is a program that works, but then Rauner zeroed it out and now we are in trouble’

    I wonder how much we will be saying that about federal level programs over the coming years as well. We need to learn the lessons from the failure of the Rauner years

  43. - City Guy - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 4:41 pm:

    There is an approach to reduce youth violence developed by Irving Spergel, gang expert at University of Chicago. The approach was tested and showed a 40% drop in serious violence in Little Village. It was proven to work in other locations.

    From his UofC obituary: “The model calls for a coordinated effort against gangs characterized by community organization and neighborhood mobilization; social intervention, including jobs, job training and education; suppression, including arrest, incarceration and supervision; and organizational development and change.”

    My impression is this approach (or an updated version) is not being utilized in Chicago.

    We need to provide jobs and hope to the youth if we want the violence to stop.

  44. - PilsenMan - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 6:39 pm:

    Why wasn’t over 100 people shot a couple of little kids murdered national news?

  45. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 6:39 pm:

    Jobs would help. We also need to provide the youth a way to gain status and belong to a group. Status is very important.

  46. - All This - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 7:08 pm:

    == Why wasn’t over 100 people shot a couple of little kids murdered national news?==
    Why would it be? Aren’t we depressed enough?

  47. - Anonish - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 9:04 pm:

    Oak Park has 121 officers. That shakes out to 23.3 officers per 10k and yet there are folks demanding more officers because they don’t feel safe enough.

  48. - Arock - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 10:00 pm:

    If we are going to blame politicians for the problems of violence lets start with the State of Illinois that has failed to fund education properly for decades. Poorly educated students do not have much chance of finding decent jobs. Plus more interest by corrupt politicians in Chicago for gentrification projects than solving the problems of the worst parts of the town. The poor got poorer because of these decisions.

  49. - 17% Solution - Wednesday, Jun 24, 20 @ 10:11 am:

    Don’t pin this on “poor education.” The truth is companies don’t hire people with no experience. The only way to get experience is to get a job and the only way to get a job is with experience.
    Maybe a tax break for companies to hire people with no experience could be looked at.

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