Chicago’s crime rate down for 23rd straight month – but is this the public perception?

The Chicago Tribune reports that the November crime statistics for Chicago look good. Here are a few of the important statistics:

Superintendent Jody Weis announced November’s crime statistics Sunday, saying the decrease amounted to the 23rd consecutive month of lower overall crime in the city.

Property crimes dropped overall by 2.2 percent compared with last year’s figures, officials said…

There were 12 fewer slayings in November compared with last year’s figures, a 2.8 percent dip. This year there were 412 slayings reported compared with 424 for the same time last year, officials said. These numbers were lower than figures reported in 2007 for the same time frame; that year had the lowest number of slayings since 1965, police said.

Overall violent crime dropped 9.8 percent, with criminal sexual assaults dropping by 8.5 percent compared with last year, robberies dropping 11 percent and aggravated assaults 11.9 percent, officials said.

This sounds like good news. In fact, how have I not heard about this before – now 23 straight months of decreasing crime rates? One would think that Chicago officials and police would be trumpeting this all over the place: crime is going down!

But on the other hand, this reminds me that the public perception of crime rates is what really matters. In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about teenagers being shot. The nightly news and local media still seems to revolve around ghastly crimes. Does the average Chicago citizen or resident of the region know that crime in Chicago has gone down for nearly two years?

And ultimately, what would the crime rate need to be so that people wouldn’t see Chicago as a den of crime? A place like Celebration, Florida can experience one murder and people wonder if it has all gone wrong. Would Chicago be seen as a relatively crime-free place with 350 murders a year? 300? The crime rate could go down for another 6 months or a year but there has to be a lower number where people (and perhaps the media) start perceiving Chicago differently.