Hmmm: Homicides in Chicago drop 45% after Operation Legend arrests

How do we drive down violent crime? At one point in the not-so-distant past, America figured out the answer — lock up violent criminals rather than releasing them. Chicago may have reinvented this wheel over the past month, as local law enforcement announced earlier today. Homicides dropped almost by half in August and shootings declined by double digits:

Homicides and shootings reported last month in Chicago were down from a month ago, according to data collected by Chicago police.

The 63 murders reported in August was a 45% decrease from July, while the number of shootings decreased by 15%, Chicago police said in a news release Tuesday.

The Sun-Times has also counted 63 homicides in August, bringing the total to 496 so far this year within city limits. Last month 481 people were shot with at least 39 of them minors, according to Sun-Times records.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown credited the department’s two new citywide initiatives – Community Safety Team and Critical Incident Response Team – for helping bring down the murder rate.

Those were not the only changes to Chicago law enforcement, however. In late July, the explosion of violence forced Mayor Lori Lightfoot to start working with Donald Trump and the Department of Justice on restoring some order in the Windy City. Trump sent 150 or more federal law enforcement officers to Chicago as part of Operation Legend, named after LeGend Taliferro, who was killed in Kansas City the previous month.

Within two days, feds made their first arrests in Chicago. Within three weeks, they had arrested more than sixty suspects in federal crimes:

At least 61 people have been charged with federal crimes in Chicago under the new “Operation Legend,” which brought federal agents to the city in a plan to fight violent crime.

Attorney General William Barr said those charged face accusations related to firearms, narcotics and bank fraud. …

The operation was launched in Kansas City, Missouri in early July and was expanded to Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis and Indianapolis in the weeks following.

So far, there have been more than 1,000 arrests across those cities, with the exception of Indianapolis. Of those, 217 have been charged with federal crimes, Barr said.

In Detroit, the police chief expressed hope last week that the extra enforcement would discourage crime, especially by getting “trigger-pullers” off the streets for good:

In Detroit, agents circled a motel that police officials said had been a hotbed for criminal activity for years. As the caravan pulled into the parking lot of the yellow building, Barr and Police Chief James Craig hovered overhead in a helicopter outfitted with special cameras to watch from the sky.

Five people were arrested, and agents seized three ounces of cocaine, one ounce of fentanyl and a handgun.

Craig said the execution of the operation — and in some cases bringing federal charges, which generally result in stiffer penalties — will help to drive down violent crime in Detroit and get so-called “trigger-pullers” off the street.

“This is certainly welcomed,” Craig told the AP. “We have always had a history of working well with our federal partners. So, to get the added resources and engage in an operation like we did today, that’s what makes a difference in our community in reducing violence.”

Craig certainly believes that more arrests have a causal effect on declines in violent crime, specifically those arrests made by Operation Legend. That at least appears to be part of the success in Chicago last month, too. A spike in arrests and a show of more assertive enforcement of laws has at least correlated to a sharp reduction in crime — which shouldn’t be a surprise, since the retreat from enforcement this spring and summer correlated to an explosion of crime in Chicago and many other cities around the country.

In this, we are relearning an old lesson called “broken windows policing.” Enforcing laws energetically, even for minor crimes, sets an expectation of public order and disincentivizes more wanton commission of serious crimes. Setting criminals free via an end to cash bail and the refusal to enforce laws for their supposedly low priority sends a message of impunity that rapidly gets absorbed and pushed past the supposed retreat boundaries that communities have set up.

The people who live in these communities should decide now whether they want to live in continuing chaos, or whether they will demand public order and peace. And then they should vote for people who will deliver what they want, rather than politicians who pander and kneel to mobs, and fulfill the responsibilities of their offices rather than abandon their constituents.