FOX 32 NEWS - Chicago has reached a milestone that nobody wanted to see: the city has record its 500th homicide this year.
There are concerns that criminals are becoming emboldened, while police are backing off.
"I'm frustrated. The city should be frustrated,” said Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Superintendent Johnson reacted Tuesday to another violent weekend in Chicago that left 65 people shot, with 13 of them fatally.
That brings Chicago’s homicide total to 512 so far this year, which is the highest in 20 years and blows past last year's total of 491 with nearly four months left on the calendar.
So, what's driving the murder spike?
The superintendent repeated his call for tougher gun and sentencing laws. However, he also acknowledged a new climate of fear among police officers after a tumultuous year of protests and violence aimed at police nationwide.
"Of course the police out there on the street have been affected by all of that. They're human. So of course nobody wants to be the next viral video,” Johnson said. "I have to tell you the level of disrespect that you see towards police--I've never seen it like this in my 28 years. So of course that's a concern to the officers. But these officers took an oath to protect the city and I still see them doing it."
Former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy spoke with FOX 32 and put it more bluntly.
"That lawlessness is the result of a less aggressive police officer and a more aggressive criminal. It's not rocket science. It's really simple what's happening,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy says street criminals and gangbangers have been emboldened by a message of non-compliance. They simply don't fear the consequences of ignoring the police or the law.
"Somebody's gotta call time out. Somebody's got to take a step back and say if we continue down this road, look at how many more people are dying. Every action has a reaciton. And there's not a political solution for practical problems,” McCarthy said.
While 500 homicides is a dramatic number, it's nowhere close to historic. In the early 1990's, there were as many as 900 Chicago murders a year.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson says police passed another important milestone over the weekend, as officers took the six thousandth gun off the streets so far this year.