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April 20, 2012

Hyde Park defies city rise in murders

Violent crime in the Hyde Park–South Kenwood area has gone down compared to last year’s levels at this time, despite a rise in homicides for the city at large.

In an email update to all students last week, University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) Chief Marlon Lynch noted that UCPD has put security officers on patrol 24 hours a day over the last quarter and has continued the installation of additional security cameras near residence halls and on campus.

Although UCPD patrols regularly in the area extending from East 39th to 64th Streets and Cottage Grove to Lake Shore Drive, Lynch warned students to remain alert as the weather warms.

UCPD spokesperson Robert Mason said that the force’s renewed vigilance, part of a plan to keep crime in the Hyde Park–South Kenwood area near its record low in 2011, has led to the dip in crime­—and more arrests.

“Added security officers on various corners and locations around campus have certainly had an effect on reducing crime,” Mason said. “It shows that UCPD is proactive and visible.”

Homicides citywide are up over 60 percent compared with year-to-date numbers from 2011, although every other violent crime measure has decreased, according to Chicago Police Department News Affairs.

That increase is mirrored in Hyde Park’s district 21, which has seen a 50 percent increase in homicides from last year.

Still, violent crime in Hyde Park-South Kenwood is down this year from its five-year average, a promising development given the unseasonably mild winter. It is generally known that crime rises with better weather and the warmer temperatures.

“[Warm weather] brings out more good people, and as things get busier, the bad guys take advantage of that,” Mason said. “Robbery, which drives the crime rating, is a crime of opportunity. But overall, it’s down on the year.”

However, crime always maintains an element of the unpredictable.

“It’s impossible to tell,” Mason said, “because there’s no telling how it goes.”

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