In the middle of a post at City Journal with the obvious enough thesis that it’s better to be well-off than poor in Chicago I saw this:
Over the last few years, violent crime in Chicago has made international headlines. Though the city as a whole has seen a significant drop in crime since its early-nineties peak, analyst Daniel Hertz has demonstrated that significant areas of the West and South Sides actually experience more murders than they did even at the peak of the crack epidemic. Unlike New York, where former war zones such as the South Bronx have made radical improvements in safety, many of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods have only gotten worse. Meanwhile, gentrified North Side areas are safer than New York City.
Safety levels in Chicago can no longer be plotted on a single bell-shaped curve for the entire city. Today, that curve is split into two—one distribution for the wealthy neighborhoods and one for the poor ones. A lack of resources is part of the problem: the police department is understaffed. Emanuel campaigned on a pledge to hire new police officers, but he quickly backtracked, claiming that he only meant to put 1,000 more officers on the street through reassignments. While the city budget is tight, failing to increase police strength during a murder epidemic is a profound statement of civic priorities.
That’s a prescription you run into pretty frequently—we just need more police officers—but I wonder whether there’s an actual basis for it. Only three major cities have more police officers per 10,000 population than Chicago does: Washington, DC, Newark, and Baltimore. To my eye there’s no easily identifiable relationship between the ratio of police to population and crime rates.
I think the better case is that Chicago’s police force is mismanaged. That fits, too, with the general thesis of the post: Rahm Emanuel’s view of the city has no room for the poor.