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Chicago deadlier than NYC, Los Angeles even as killings fall 18%

– Vincent Rogers closed out Chicago’s 2013 homicide ledger on New Year’s Eve when the 26-year-old was gunned down in front of a South Side convenience store. His was the year’s 415th killing in the nation’s third-largest city.

But 2013 was also a year in which police made some progress in the fight against gun violence.

Chicago cut its homicide total by 18 percent in 2013 after a year of high-profile mayhem.

The killings were the fewest this city of 2.7 million people has reported since 1965, giving Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police superintendent Garry McCarthy confidence that they have found the strategy to make the streets safer.

Even so, Chicago outpaced its large urban peers in the amount of deadly violence.

New York, with a population of 8.3 million, reported 333 homicides, a drop of 20 percent from 2012 and the lowest figure in its history. Los Angeles, with 3.8 million residents, had 250, down 16 percent through Dec. 28.

In Chicago, the violence numbers illustrate the progress the city has made as well as the obstacles it faces to reduce them further.

Most of the killings occur in the city’s high-poverty South and West sides.

“It’s gangs and guns,” said Robert Lombardo, a professor of criminology at Loyola University Chicago who served 30 years on the Chicago police force before beginning his academic career.

A report released last month by Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies showed that non-gang-related homicides in Chicago declined from 1995 to 2010, while gang killings remained stable.

“Homicides are more likely to involve a gang member than not,” said the report’s author, Andrew Papachristos.