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Chicago arrests dropped 74% over past decade

Chicago police arrests have dropped 74% from 2012 to 2021, mirroring a national trend.

The number of arrests in Chicago dropped from 145,390 in 2012 to 38,400 in 2021, according to the city’s annual financial report.

From 2019 – the year before the COVID-19 pandemic – to 2021, arrests have dropped 57% from 89,487 to 38,400.

So far in 2022, the Chicago police have made 27,940 arrests through Aug. 25.


Murders have increased significantly during the pandemic years (2020, 2021) in the city. There were 772 people murdered in 2020 and 797 in 2021. In 2019, there were 498 people murdered in Chicago, according to city statistics.

However, in seven major crime categories, there has been a reduction in crime from 2017 to 2021.

When comparing murders, criminal sexual assaults, robbery, aggravated battery, burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft, the trend has been fewer incidents.

There were 60,949 reports of those seven crimes in 2017. That dropped every year to 46,182 incidents in 2020 before rising to 47,591 in 2021.

The Chicago Police Department and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office didn’t respond to emails seeking comment on the arrest trends.

In September 2017, the city had 12,256 sworn police officers, according to the city’s Office of Inspector General. There were 13,181 sworn officers in September 2019 and that dropped to 12,804 in 2020 and 12,140 in 2021.

The reduction in arrests follows a national trend where numerous police departments around the country are reporting record-low number of arrests in 2021 when compared to the past decade.

Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Antonio, AtlantaPhiladelphia and Ann Arbor, Michigan, are just some of the other cities that have reported significant drops in police enforcement over the past several years, many without an accompanying drop in serious crime.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich in the state of Washington attributed the decline in enforcement to the political climate created by high-profile police incidents over the past eight years, as The Center Square previously reported.

Knezovich cited the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the ambush and killing of five police officers in Dallas in 2016 and more recently the death of George Floyd in 2020 as the primary reason for the decline in enforcement.

“The Ferguson Effect is a real thing. Police officers started to back away from enforcement,” Knezovich told The Center Square. “You saw it across the nation. You wonder why you see less and less enforcement and more and more crime, it’s woke politicians and activists and the media have made it so. They wanted us to disengage.”

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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