"Chicago has long been troubled by violence, but homicides and shootings have risen sharply this year. Violent crime remains below the levels of two decades ago, and criminologists caution against finding trends in only a few months of data. But City Hall, the police and community leaders are alarmed by the surge: As of Friday, 131 people had been killed here in the first months of 2016, an 84 percent rise in homicides from the same period in 2015. There had been 605 shootings, nearly twice as many as at this point last year.
The increase could hardly have come at a more difficult time. The city is at a pivotal moment for law enforcement, mired in a crisis over police conduct and discipline and over distrust of officers, particularly among African-American residents, who make up about one-third of Chicago’s population.
The Justice Department is scrutinizing the patterns and practices of the city’s police force; the mayor on Monday named an interim police superintendent to replace the department’s fired leader; and voters have rejected Cook County’s top prosecutor, defeating her in a primary on March 15. The release in November of a police video that showed a white officer shooting a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times caused longstanding anger about police conduct to boil over."