An Increasing Percentage of Police Shooting Victims in Chicago are Black

Por en Chicago 01/22/13 1:26pm
Chicago Police conduct an investigation at the scene of an officer-involved shooting at 75th Street and Jeffery Boulevard in Chicago on Monday, January 7, 2013. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

Chicago’s homicide totals garnered a large amount of media attention in 2012, and deservedly so.

Not only did the city top the 500-murder mark for the first time since 2008, it earned the dubious distinction of leading the nation in homicides.

New York City, which has about three times as many people, had 418 homicides, the lowest numbers in half a century.

The pace shows little sign of slowing in 2013.

As of January 17, 28 people had been killed in Chicago, just one fewer than the year earlier period, according to data from RedEye colleague Tracy Swartz.

One aspect of violence in the city has received far less coverage: police shootings.

We downloaded four years worth of data from the Independent Police Review Authority’s web site and ran the numbers.

Several findings stood out to us.

The most important: the percentage of police shooting victims who are black increased each  year.

In 2009, 66 percent, or nearly two in three, of the 61 police shooting victims were black.

By 2012, 88 percent of the 57 victims shot during the year were African-American.

This occurred in a city where less than one in three residents were black in 2010, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

It’s important to note that the percentage of black homicide victims remained essentially the same during this period, hovering in the 76 to 78 percent range.

It’s also worth noting that the number of police shootings, both fatal and non-fatal, jumped up and down during the same years.

From 2009 to 2010, the total number of police shootings fell from 61 to 44 before ticking upward to 60 in 2011 and falling to 57 in 2012.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found a close relationship between police districts with high numbers of homicides and police shootings.

For example, with 10 fatal police shootings, the Seventh Police District in the Englewood neighborhood had the most police shootings.    In all, 24 people were shot by police during the four years, the second-highest total in the city.

The district also had the second-highest total of homicides, 185, in the city.

Ninety seven percent of the district’s 71,071 residents in 2010 were black, according to the department’s annual report.

By contrast, the First District had just six homicides and two police shootings during the same years.

Less than one in five of the district’s 57,055 residents in 2012 were black, the annual report said.

We reached out to Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton.

She didn’t give us a comment, but did assert in an email that “police involved shootings overall were down 20% in 2012 from the year before.”

Our calculations showed a 5 percent drop.

We’ll continue to ask Stratton for a comment.

We’re also going to go out into the most affected communities to hear from residents abut what these police shootings have meant to them.

We welcome your thoughts, too.