Chicago Mayor Opens Crime Files for All to See

September 15, 2011

Ever wonder which Chicago neighborhoods carry the most crime incidents or whether a specific piece of Chicago real estate has been burglarized over the last decade?

There’s an easy way to find out.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made public every crime that has occurred in the city over the past 10 years.

This is a far cry from past administrations, which were known for withholding information from its residents.

guy wearing glasses looking at the computer with a shocked look on his face

Just because you can see all crimes that have occurred in Chicago over the past 10 years doesn't mean you should.

While the release is part of the Mayor’s effort to increase transparency in Chicago’s government, it’s also an attempt to fight crime on our city’s streets.

“This type of data is in very high demand from community organizations, and this will forever change lives of the people working in neighborhoods to combat crime because they can target interventions in ways they couldn’t before, down to the block and down to the individual crime,” said Virginia Carlson, President of the Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC), an independent research group that provides demographic and baseline data on social policy.

“Open information like this is absolutely unprecedented in Chicago and the nation.”

Mayor Emanuel said that about 4.6 million crime incident reports dating back to 2001 are now available on the City of Chicago’s data portal and will be updated daily.

The listings report the crime, the address, whether there was an arrest, the police beat, the city ward and a case number. Crimes range from telephone harassment to home invasions.

“By posting this data online,” Emanuel said, “we are providing a resource that will significantly impact criminal research while allowing community organizations to more effectively collaborate with the Chicago Police Department and better understand where crime is happening in their neighborhoods, streets and corners.”

The new disclosure adds to Emanuel’s release of city salary information, city contracts, debarred vendors and abandoned buildings.

The more than 200 datasets can be found at

“Government transparency is so important to the public and fundamental to establishing legitimacy,” said Dennis Rosenbaum, a Professor of Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“The academic community will use these data to generate new knowledge about patterns of crime, educate the public, and improve strategies for reducing crime in Chicago and across the country. The research opportunities are significant, and the more minds you have working on the data, the better our understanding of crime and the greater our ability to translate these findings into improved community safety.”

Chicago’s Mayor is also doing something physically to curb crime: He is redeploying 114 police officers to street beats throughout the city.

The officers are either coming from special units or desk jobs and will take to the streets starting today in every police district in Chicago.

Since taking office, Mayor Emanuel has put 881 more Chicago police officers on city streets. One of his campaign promises was to add 1,000.

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