Offering a hint of hope to a city notorious worldwide for its gun violence, Chicago saw a decline of more than 100 homicide victims in 2017 compared with the previous year -- the steepest one-year reduction in nearly 15 years.
But Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration, a beleaguered police department and residents of the blighted neighborhoods where the bloodshed is largely concentrated nevertheless are faced with a horrific toll: 664 people slain within city limits by New Year's Eve, plus seven people shot dead by on-duty Chicago Police officers, according to data compiled by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Still, the 15 percent decline in killings compared with 2016 is stark, especially given a grisly first half of the year when the city was on pace to surpass the 781 homicides logged last year -- Chicago's deadliest in two decades.
Police and criminologists will be waiting to see if that improvement, bolstered by new crime-fighting technology and renewed outreach efforts by a police department laboring to restore community trust, can be sustained -- or if it simply was a temporary lull during a terrifying spike of more than 1,400 people slain in two calendar years.
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