Fourteen homicides in a month may be staggering for some cities, but in Chicago, the number is actually a sign — however grim — of progress.
The 14 murders tallied show progress over 2012 numbers, as well; ABC Chicago reports February's homicide rate last year was 28.
"These numbers represent progress thanks to the hard work of our dedicated police officers and community partners including ministers, parents, principals and citizens who are working alongside us to ensure the broader public safety throughout the city," Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Friday, according to ABC.
Art Lurigio, a criminologist at Loyola University Chicago, told the Sun-Times that while the numbers were good, "It’s really the year we should be paying attention to because statistics fluctuate for a variety of reasons.”
Harold Pollack, co-director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab told DNAinfo Chicago, "I'm always reluctant to put too much stock in any one month. Weather matters and lots of things matter." Pollack added, "We hope that all of the attention to this issue might lead to positive change."
Last month, President Obama gave a speech on gun violence at a Chicago school shortly after his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, attended the funeral of inaugural performer Hadiya Pendleton, whose death garnered national attention.
A Tribune analysis of the city's homicide data indicates February tends to average just under 25 homicides during the past 11 years. RedEye reports the last time the month's numbers were roughly as low was in 2006, with 16 homicides. That total previously represented the lowest monthly homicide total over the last decade.
(Why are Chicago's murder numbers typically the lowest of the year in February? Chicago magazine dug into the question.)
In the wake of the city's 2012 homicide rate, both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and McCarthy have been under pressure to curb the violence numbers. In January, Emanuel said he was shifting 200 cops from desk jobs to patrol work.
Police say the city hasn't seen such a low monthly homicide total since January 1957 when 14 people were also murdered in Chicago.