As Crime Rises in Chicago, Hyde Park Bucks Trend

Surrounding neighborhoods have felt the brunt of increased violence.

By Hillel Steinmetz

Though violence in Chicago is on the rise, crime in Hyde Park seems to be falling. In spite of the increase in violent crime in the city and the high number of security alerts this month, Hyde Park has seen less crime in 2016 compared to the same time frame as last year.

Recent data indicates that Hyde Park has seen a decrease in crime since the beginning of the year. According to the City of Chicago Data Portal, there were 313 crimes reported in Hyde Park in between January 1 and April 13. This is fewer than the 366 crimes reported in the same time frame in the year of 2015. The instances of theft (including motor vehicles theft) and burglary has also decreased from 143 reports in 2015 to 116 in 2016.

This month, however, saw many incidents near campus. On Monday, the University issued a security alert detailing a shooting on 52nd Street. Earlier this month, three other security alerts were released, all involving armed robbery. Since January 1, there have been three shootings victims in Hyde Park. For comparison, last year there were five shooting victims in total, according to data from the Chicago Tribune.

A statement from the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) said that it will continue to evaluate measures necessary for the campus security and will increase its presence for the upcoming months as it normally does towards the end of spring quarter. “UCPD works collaboratively with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and as part of ongoing evaluations of safety needs, UCPD has increased their presence within their patrol area. This is consistent with the past practice of having an increased police presence from mid April through June, with another assessment following for security measures for the remainder of the summer,” the statement read.

Hyde Park remains one of Chicago’s safer neighborhoods. According to data from the CPD website, there were 769 crimes reported in Hyde Park over the past 365 days. By contrast, the nearby neighborhood of Woodlawn, which has roughly the same number of people as Hyde Park according to the 2010 US Census, has had 1393 crimes reported. Washington Park, which has less than half the population of Hyde Park, had 1083 crimes reported.

Cristian Raygoza, a second-year in the College, said that he feels safe in Hyde Park despite witnessing a shooting and having his apartment burglarized. “Even compared to other parts of Chicago that aren’t on the South Side, I think is a safer place than average. So, I don’t think there’s a need to be really anxious about being the victim of criminal activity,” Raygoza said.

In contrast to Hyde Park, overall crime is on the rise in the City of Chicago, with a surge of shooting incidents and murders in particular. According to CPD data, the number of crime complaints in the City of Chicago has increased by 21 percent over the course of the year preceding April 10, 2016. Shooting incidents and murders have noticeably increased by 78 percent and 62 percent, respectively. Despite the increase, overall crime is still down by 21 percent from four years ago. The same cannot be said about shooting incidents and murder, which have increased by 39 percent and 19 percent, respectively, in the four years preceding April 10.

The crime trend of the areas surrounding Hyde Park mirror Chicago’s. According to CPD crime reports, Police District 2, which contains the neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, Washington Park, Grand Boulevard, and Douglas, has seen an overall crime increase of 29 percent year over year.

According to a WBEZ article, the rise in crime in Chicago might be explained by the fact that this year’s winter was warmer than usual. In general, when the weather gets warmer the amount of crime increases as people will tend to be outside more, raising the chances of criminal encounters. Another explanation offered to account for this uptick is what has been dubbed the “Laquan McDonald Effect.” It purports that police are beginning to engage with crime less aggressively out of fear they would portrayed as corrupt on social media.