Public Opinion on Crime in Chicago

March 4, 2024

Chicago is not a safe city

Three weeks ago, Contrarian published a poll on crime in Chicago. Our survey drew over 2,200 responses and the results were stunning.

When asked if Chicago was in the throes of a crime “crisis,” nearly everyone agreed. This was, in fact, the most polarizing question we asked. While 92.9 percent of respondents agreed crime had reached crisis level, an astounding 81.5 percent said they strongly agreed. Only 5.8 percent believed that crime in Chicago was not a crisis. Only 1 percent of respondents said they neither disagreed nor agreed. That was the lowest group of agnostics we had in the survey.

Beyond being a crisis, a solid majority — 60 percent— of respondents said that they “strongly disagreed” with the statement “I feel safe in Chicago.” Another 25 percent “somewhat disagreed.” Less than 10 percent (9.5) indicated that they felt safe in the city.

Perhaps the most incredible revelation was that a majority of respondents (54 percent) admitted they or a family member of been the victim of crime. This proves what we already know: Crime is so far reaching, it is affecting everyone in Chicago. No neighborhood is safe. Only 25 percent of respondents said they (or their family) had not been the victim of Chicago’s crime crisis.

A small minority (11 percent) indicated that they disagreed with the statement that illegal migrants are greatly contributing to crime in Chicago. 77 percent agreed with the statement. 41 percent strongly agreed.

The public, it seems, is not inclined to believe more gun laws would help reduce crime. Only 12 percent of respondents agreed, while 78 percent disagreed with the statement “more gun laws would reduce crime in Chicago.”

Unsurprisingly, there appears to be near universal agreement, 92 percent, that cashless bail — also known as the SAFE-T Act — is greatly contributing to the crime situation in Chicago. The same number of respondents (5.8 percent) who thought that the situation was not a crisis, disagreed here as well. Interestingly enough, however, it was not the same group of people. Several respondents agreed that crime was a “crisis” but disagreed that cashless bail was a significant contributing factor.

Regarding the hiring of more police officers, an astounding 92 percent agreed that doing so would reduce crime. Less than 3 percent disagreed, which was the lowest amount of agreement or disagreement in the survey. Regardless of all other opinion, respondents to the survey overwhelmingly want more police officers on the street.

Just under 4 percent of respondents said that they’re not curtailing the amount of time or money that they spend in the city. Compare that to over 86 percent who say they are.

Respondents were also extremely clear in saying that crime in Chicago is not overblown. While just under 6 percent said that it was, over 88 percent said that the crime situation was in no way exaggerated.

In addition to hiring more police officers, by a wide margin people believe greater enforcement of our current laws greatly reduce crime. Less than 3.5 percent of people thought enforcing current laws would help compared to over 94 percent of those who did.

In our final question on crime, just under 79 percent agreed that crime in Chicago was part of a national issue while 12 percent disagreed.

When respondents were given the opportunity to assign blame for the deteriorating situation on the streets, outgoing Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx is the clear winner with 90 percent of respondents saying that she deserves “considerable blame.” People nearly equally agreed with Mayor Johnson and former Mayor Lightfoot each deserving 64 percent considerable blame and 27/24 percent some blame respectively.

The panel was uninterested in letting Governor J.B. Pritzker off the hook: Over 83 percent said that Pritzker deserves blame as well for the crime situation.

For all the individuals mentioned above, between 5-6 percent of respondents gave them some or considerable credit.

That brings us to CPD Superintendent Larry Snelling. Considering his role as Superintendent of Police, people were about equally divided with 44 percent saying Superintendent Snelling deserves blame, and 44 percent saying he deserves neither blame nor credit. The remainder, 12 percent, give the man some credit for trying to improve the situation.

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