ILLINOIS

Killings in Chicago fall 15% from year before

Preliminary numbers indicate that homicides in Chicago fell by about 100 last year compared with 2017, though the total again eclipsed the number of killings in Los Angeles and New York combined, according to data released Tuesday.

Police in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, reported 561 homicides between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018. That compares with 660 homicides in 2017 and more than 770 in 2016, which marked a 19-year high that put a national spotlight on Chicago’s persistently high rates of gun violence.

Chicago police credited the decreases in part to the addition of more than 1,000 officers in recent years. Police also cited the creation of high-tech nerve centers in 20 out of 22 police districts, where officers rely on gunshot-detection technology and predictive analytics that help quickly get police to areas where violence is most likely to erupt.

“Are we where we want to be? Of course not,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told the Chicago Tribune in a recent interview. But he added: “I do think we are taking steps in the right direction.”

Despite the decrease in 2018, the homicide total in Chicago was still higher than the total in the country’s two other largest cities. As of mid-December, New York reported 278 homicides and Los Angeles had 243.

— Associated Press

OKLAHOMA

Quakes continue to fall after new drilling rules

The number of Oklahoma earthquakes registering a magnitude 3.0 or greater has declined for the third consecutive year after state regulators began directing oil and natural gas producers to close some wells and reduce injection volumes in others.

The number of such quakes began declining in mid-2015 when the state Corporation Commission took action after the quakes were linked to the underground injection of wastewater, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

State seismologist Jake Walter told the Tulsa World he was optimistic the downward trend would continue, but he said not to expect the temblors to end anytime soon. He said the quakes were likely to continue for at least a decade “because earthquakes beget earthquakes.”

“There’s complex interactions among these networks of faults that can continue to propagate the seismicity back and forth, up and down in all directions,” Walter said.

Through late December, the survey reported 196 quakes of magnitude 3.0 or stronger, down from 302 in 2017, 623 in 2016 and a record 903 in 2015.

From 2008 to 2013, the state averaged 44 earthquakes of that size every year. And from 1976 to 2007, Oklahoma averaged about one such quake a year.

— Associated Press

ALABAMA

Fears of contamination spark sausage recall

An Alabama company has recalled tons of hot sausages because they may be contaminated with bits of metal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recall notice said it had not had any reports of injury from the R.L. Zeigler Co. sausages, which were shipped nationwide from Selma, Ala.

The notice dated Sunday said the recall affects about 5.8 tons of chicken and pork sausage labeled as “red hots” — some of them also labeled “extra hot.” They all are 24-ounce packages holding about nine links with a Jan. 24 use-by date.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Zeigler received complaints on Dec. 13 and 27, investigated them, and notified the agency Saturday.

— Associated Press