Robert Vargas

Volume 89.2
Capitalizing on Crisis: Chicago Policy Responses to Homicide Waves, 1920–2016
Robert Vargas
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago.

We would like to thank Andrew Papachristos, Aziz Huq, Jenny Trinitapoli, and Wesley Skogan for comments and feedback on earlier drafts as well as Cecilia Smith and Parmanand Sinha for technical support with the geographic analyses.

Chris Williams
Ph.D. Student, Sociology Department, University of Chicago.
Phillip O’Sullivan
Joint J.D./Ph.D. Student, Department of Statistics, Harvard University.
Christina Cano
Undergraduate Student, Sociology Department, University of Chicago.

This Essay investigates Chicago city-government policy responses to the four largest homicide waves in its history: 1920–1925, 1966–1970, 1987–1992, and 2016. Through spatial and historical methods, we discover that Chicago police and the mayor’s office misused data to advance agendas conceived prior to the start of the homicide waves.