(NaturalNews) What police officers, handgun bans and public policies have been unable to do in Chicago to lower the murder rate, Mother Nature has managed to accomplish.
According to a rather macabre website belonging to the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper - a site which tracks murders in the city - the chill of the polar vortex is being credited with lowering the city's grotesque murder rate.
In fact, according to police statistics, the murder rate in Chicago in January 2014 was half of what it was compared to a year earlier. Police reported 20 killings in the first month of the year, during which there were 11 days of subzero temperatures, making it one of the coldest months in recent years.
"The superintendent has said weather is a factor, but its not the only factor," Chicago Police spokesman Adam Collins told the paper. "It neither causes nor prevents crime."
Or does it?
Let's look at the figures, as reported by the paper:
Overall, Chicago had 50 percent fewer killings than it did in January 2013, when 40 people were murdered; 47 percent fewer slayings than January 2012, when 38 people were killed; and a 29 percent decrease from January 2011, when 28 people were murdered, police said.
Evidence is anecdotal, say critics - and the police
Coincidence? Perhaps, but if weather indeed did play a role in reducing the number of killings in Chi-Town, nobody is complaining about it.
Still, the stats on those unfortunate souls who did perish are disturbing, nonetheless.
Nineteen of the 20 who were killed were males, the paper said, noting that the most common of victims were 19-year-old males. The youngest victim was 15-year-old Miguel Naverrette, and the oldest was 44-year-old Edward Caridine, according to police records.
In all, 18 of the murders were shootings. In the two others, Stephanie Serrano was stabbed to death while attending a party on Jan. 6, and Caridine was beaten to death in his apartment. Police found him Jan. 22; autopsies performed by the medical examiner's office confirmed his cause of death.
Many of the killings were localized as well:
Three of the city's 77 community areas had multiple murders in January. The Chicago Lawn community had the most killings with five. South Lawndale and Chatham also tallied multiple slayings with three and two, respectively.
Criminal behavioral specialists and other experts certainly have to take note that January was the coldest month on record in a number of years - a fact that just happened to coincide with the lowest January murder rate in years. The average January 2014 temperature in Chicago was 15.5 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take a few tenths of a degree; that is about 8.5 degrees colder than normal, based on National Weather Service figures.
A year earlier, the average temperatures were in the 26.5-degree range; a year before that, temperatures averaged around 30 degrees, which was 3 to 6.5 degrees above normal.
'We are continuing to make progress'
Weather can't explain away the entire phenomenon, however. There was a murder on 14 different days in Chicago during the month, including one on the coldest day of the month, when average temps were in the minus-9-degree range.
But there is additional anecdotal evidence that would indicate that the colder temperatures at least put a damper on the crime/shooting rate. In all, the city recorded 90 shootings and 98 victims in January 2014; that just happens to be the lowest total in the past four years, officials have said.
Those figures compare with 158 shootings and 186 victims in the warmer month of January 2013, the Sun-Times reported.
"After historic lows in crime and violence in 2013, January saw continued progress, yet much more work remains to be done and no one will rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a statement.
"We are continuing to make progress, like the near all-time lows we saw last February and March, but it will become more challenging without better laws that help keep illegal guns out of our communities and punish the criminals who carry them," he added.
It could also become more challenging as spring approaches and brings with it warmer temperatures. Sources: