Crime Lab partnering with police in Chicago's highest-crime districts

UChicago to provide data analysis and support in Englewood and Harrison neighborhoods

Chicago looking west
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Mark Peters
News Director and Social Sciences SpecialistUniversity Communications

The University of Chicago Crime Lab will provide real-time data analysis and on-the-ground support to the Chicago Police Department as part of an effort to increase the effectiveness of policing in two of Chicago’s highest crime districts. The partnership is linked to new technological resources for officers being deployed by the department.

The Crime Lab will assist the department by embedding analysts in the 7th and 11th districts, which encompass the neighborhoods of Englewood and Harrison, respectively. The analysts will use data from a range of technologies to provide commanders with real-time analysis, informing crime reduction strategies tailored to the needs of these communities. Crime Lab analysts also will help to train crime intelligence units, developing new expertise at the district level that can then be shared across the city.

“Harrison and Englewood have faced some of the worst violence in Chicago over the past year,” said Crime Lab Executive Director Roseanna Ander. “We want to help these police districts leverage the information they have as effectively as possible and reduce the levels of violence affecting these communities.”

The 7th and 11th districts have received new investments in technologies for policing, including additional cameras, new license plate recognition technology, and ShotSpotter—a system that helps pinpoint when and where gunshots are fired in an area.

“Crime and violence presents a complex problem that has to be dealt with in complex ways,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in announcing the partnership between the Crime Lab and the Chicago Police Department.

Researchers at the Crime Lab will work with officers to assess how the new technologies and analytical support are being integrated into policing. Feedback from officers will help inform plans to expand efforts to other districts in the city. The work being piloted in the Harrison and Englewood districts builds on procedures pioneered in Los Angeles.

The 7th and 11th districts historically have had among the highest rates of violence in Chicago. Yet the scale of violence in these communities increased drastically in 2016—a year that saw Chicago’s overall homicide rate increase by nearly 60 percent. According to the city’s open data portal, there were 92 more homicides in 2016 in these two districts than in 2015, accounting for nearly a third of the city’s total increase in murders over the same time period. Despite containing only 5 percent of the city’s population, these districts accounted for almost a quarter of the homicides in 2016.

In addition to rigorous research partnerships with city agencies, the Crime Lab regularly helps augment their analytical capacities. Their work in the 7th and 11th districts represents the first time that Crime Lab analysts will be embedded in a police district. After the initial pilot in the 7th and 11th districts, the Crime Lab will support the department as it expands this strategy to four additional high-crime districts in the city.