According to a recent analysis by DNAinfo, there have been more than 12,000 reported shootings in Chicago since 2012 — and more than 900 of them occurred in the Austin community. The city had more than 2,000 homicides during that period, with 150 of them occurring in Austin, the analysis shows.
A cursory glance of the data — “compiled through a combination of Freedom of Information Act requests to the Chicago Police Department and DNAinfo’s own record keeping,” according to the publication — definitely confirms the popular characterization of Austin as one of the most dangerous communities in the city.
In fact, the July 7 article accompanying DNAinfo’s release of the data hews to just such cursory analysis. After pointing out that three Chicago neighborhoods “haven’t had an incident classified as a shooting all decade,” the article notes:
“On the other extreme is Austin, the city’s most populous community area, and nearly every year, the one with the most shootings. Except for 2011 when West Englewood led the city, that West Side neighborhood has led the city every year in shootings since 2010, hitting a low of 145 in 2013.
“Seven community areas — Austin, West Englewood, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Greater Grand Crossing, South Shore and Chicago Lawn — are the scene of about 35 percent of Chicago’s shootings.”
But narrowing down that analysis reveals a more complicated story. For instance, when comparing Austin to other communities that Austin Weekly News covers — West Garfield Park and North Lawndale — it appears relatively tame.
Based on DNAinfo’s analysis, since 2010, Austin, despite having the highest totals, may well have had the lowest shooting, injury and homicide rates, per 1,000 residents, of the three communities in AWN’s coverage area.
This (very rough) conclusion is based on 2010 U.S. Census population levels of each community area. It’s a rough conclusion, because population levels aren’t static. A different 2015 population level for Austin would obviously change the murder, shooting and injury rates for that year. And that’s one of only several dynamics that may affect precision.
Nonetheless, the chart above is a rough indication of what could be a much more nuanced reality lurking behind the headlines.