With homicides in Chicago so far this year at a reduced level not seen since the 1960s, the city is touting its policing strategies in response to the previous year's murder surge as a step in the right direction -- but some are questioning whether the trend will continue through the hot summer months.
As the New York Times reported Tuesday, 146 homicides were recorded in Chicago through Sunday evening, 76 less than the same period last year when the city was in the midst of a dramatic surge of gun violence compared to the previous year. That's a 34 percent decrease in homicides this year compared to 2012.
The city is crediting its "Operation Impact" initiative sending as many as 400 police officers each day to work overtime in 20 of the city's most violent "hot zones" for the dip in crime numbers, as well as an effort zeroing in on at least 400 people police have identified as likely to be involved in a homicide -- either as a victim or a perpetrator -- due to their affiliations, the Times reports. As WGN notes, the cooler-than-usual weather in recent weeks could also have something to do with the reduced violence. (Watch Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy discuss the city's latest homicide statistics above.)
But as the department's overtime budget is quickly drying up and the temperature is beginning to rise, many are questioning whether the city's crime-fighting tactics are sustainable in the months ahead.
According to the Times, the city had already spent 84 percent of its $38 million budget for the overtime initiative through the end of April, though the mayor said the city will find a way to foot the bill for it.
As Roseanna Ander, executive director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, explained to NBC News, the true test of the city's homicide reduction efforts will come in the summer months ahead as people spend more time outdoors and, as a result, there is more opportunity for violent crime to happen.
“I think it’s too soon to tell or say anything definitive about what’s happening," Ander told NBC, while also noting that the recent statistics are "encouraging."
Meanwhile, the week has already gotten off to a violent start in Chicago. Late Monday afternoon, 18-year-old April McDaniel was one of five people struck by a spray of bullets during a drive-by shooting in the city's Englewood neighborhood. McDaniel, an aspiring singer and dancer, died at the scene after being struck in the throat.
Monday evening through early Wednesday, two others have been killed in Chicago and at least 21 others wounded in shootings citywide. According to the Chicago Tribune, 35-year-old Miguel Tharpe was shot multiple times during an argument in the city's Austin neighborhood around 10 p.m. and was pronounced dead at an area hospital shortly thereafter.
About two hours later, 42-year-old Dwayne Duckworth was struck multiple times when a group of three men approached him in a gangway around 2:20 a.m. in the 2000 block of West 70th Place in West Englewood, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
WATCH McDaniel's mother and other South Side residents react to the New York Times' Tuesday story on Chicago violence:
View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.