2004 annual crime statistics show decline in criminal activity; most significant decrease in murder rate since 2001
Arson, Armed Robbery, Sexual Assault, Theft and Burglary also decline
State Police credit better coordination and more support from state in the fight against illegal drugs and weapons
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the Illinois crime rate fell 3.1 percent in 2004, with murders reaching their lowest level since 2001. Law enforcement officials with the Illinois State Police (ISP) credited better coordination and more support from the state in the fight against illegal drugs and weapons with helping crack down on crime in Illinois.
“Public safety is the first responsibility of government,” said Governor Blagojevich. “We know two of the biggest threats to public safety are illegal guns and drugs. That’s why we’ve made giving our law enforcement officials more support in investigating and prosecuting crimes that involve illegal weapons or narcotics a top priority.”
Law enforcement agencies throughout the state reported that a total of 484,885 indexed crimes occurred last year, compared with 497,822 in 2003. The crime rate for violent crimes committed in 2004 decreased 2.2 percent. Crime was down in several categories:
- Murder rate dropped by 14.1% to its lowest level since 2001
- Arson decreased by 14.2% to its lowest level since 2000
- Robbery decreased by 5.8%
- Burglary and motor vehicle theft both realized a decrease of 3.6%
- Theft declined 3.0%
- Criminal sexual assault decreased by 1.3%
- Aggravated assault and battery declined slightly by .1%
The following is a breakdown of crime rates for other areas of the state:
| Offenses (all crimes) |
| Chicago || -3.3% |
| Downstate || -2.7% |
| Cook County || -3.0% |
| Suburban Cook County || -2.4% |
| Collar Counties || -2.4% |
| Urban Counties || -2.5% |
| Rural Counties || -3.7% |
“We want to assure the people of Illinois and our partners in law enforcement that the Illinois State Police will exhaust every resource in our efforts to safeguard their way of life,” said ISP Director Trent. “Gov. Blagojevich has shown his commitment to giving law enforcement the help we need to keep the public safe, especially from crimes related to illegal guns and drugs. We will continue to work with federal, county, and local agencies to continue this positive trend in crime reduction.”
The State Police pointed to initiatives targeting illegal guns and drugs as key factors in the successful effort to curb crime in Illinois. In 2004, the Governor directed more than $3 million in state and federal resources to help expand the “CeaseFire” gang violence prevention project to 15 additional Illinois communities. The project seeks to stop shootings by using outreach workers to intervene in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence and by changing community attitudes toward violence. In 2004, CeaseFire communities realized an average 49% drop in killings; and 51% drop in the communities that were added to the project during the year. Reductions in killings in CeaseFire zones were twice as high as in non-CeaseFire zones. In the 2005 fiscal year, CeaseFire is receiving $3.9 million to continue its efforts to reduce gun violence.
This past March, the Governor created an elite gun trafficking unit to work with federal authorities and law enforcement agencies from other states to detect and capture gunrunners and dealers. Nationwide, close to 90 percent of guns used in crimes are trafficked. In Chicago, for the past two years, more than 75 percent of murders involved guns. Now law enforcement in Illinois is able to better coordinate with other states to identify and stop gun traffickers from bringing illegal weapons into our state.
Last month, the Governor also signed legislation closing the gun show loophole that allowed gun buyers to avoid comprehensive background checks. The law now requires gun sellers at firearm shows to request background checks for potential gun purchasers. The Governor also vetoed an NRA-backed measure that would have required the destruction of the ISP’s vital firearm purchases database, which is used to investigate gun crimes and prepare for raids on possible gun traffickers.
In addition to working to get illegal guns off Illinois streets, Gov. Blagojevich has also taken action to halt the production and use of meth, a highly addictive drug that poses significant health and safety risks to users and people exposed to the production process.
“While we are proud to acknowledge the continued decrease in crime across our state, we must also accept the fact that the job is not complete and that there’s plenty of hard work ahead for us,” said Trent. “The proliferation of methamphetamine in Southern and Central Illinois is one of the main targets of law enforcement, and the fastest growing problem in the United States.”
Gov. Blagojevich has worked to help the Illinois State Police form six Dedicated Methamphetamine Response Teams responsible for investigating, seizing, and dismantling clandestine drug laboratories. The ISP dedicates these teams exclusively to fighting the increasing production of methamphetamine in Illinois. Last year, the Governor signed the Methamphetamine Manufacturing Chemical Retail Sale Control Act, which regulates the display of cold tablets and requires retailers to place some of the products most popular with meth makers – like adult strength cold tablets with ephedrine or pseudophedrine as their sole active ingredient – behind store counters or in locked cases. He also signed legislation that created penalties for individuals whose efforts to manufacture an illegal drug are a contributing cause to a fire or explosion that damages a property that belongs to someone else.
This summer, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed several new laws that will continue to boost law enforcement’s efforts to protect Illinois families and farmers from the meth epidemic. The comprehensive legislative package created new criminal offenses to help law enforcement crack down on people who assist in the dangerous meth-manufacturing process, and provided local law enforcement agencies with more support in closing down and cleaning up illegal meth labs.
The role of law enforcement in recent years has changed to extend beyond protecting the public from street crime. Since the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., police officials have taken on new responsibility for preventing terrorism – which has the potential to cause widespread loss of life and devastation. Gov. Blagojevich has worked with law enforcement and other first responders to ensure our frontlines have the equipment and training needed to respond to threats or acts of terror.
In Illinois, federal, state and local authorities work closely together to combat terrorism on every front. As the threat level of our nation changes, local law enforcement agencies share intelligence information to ensure a level of heightened awareness. In May 2003, local law enforcement participated in the most comprehensive terrorism response exercise ever undertaken in the United States, Top Officials 2 (TOP OFF2). The experience and knowledge gained during the exercise provided Illinois’ Weapons of Mass Destruction Teams with expertise that sets them apart as among the best-trained and most prepared units in the nation.
Crime statistics are available on the ISP web site at www.isp.state.il.us/crime/cii2004.cfm