Happy Tuesday and welcome to the shortest day of the year. From now until June, every day is going to be a little brighter.

  • Today's weather: Partly sunny with a high of 40.

Today's newsletter is 940 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Violent crime arrests way down in 2021

Percentage change in violent crimes arrests per capita in Chicago community areas, 2019 to 2021
Data: City of Chicago Data Portal; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Yesterday, we wrote about how most neighborhoods are seeing an increase in 2021 violent crime stats by examining all reported violent crime incidents.

  • But if you focus on arrests, the data tells a different story.

Why it matters: Violent crime arrests have dropped 39% in 2021 compared to 2019, which means violent crimes are going up but arrests are going down. Why?

What they're saying: "Arrests are down likely for a variety of reasons, some related to the pandemic and public health protocols, as well as the decrease in community trust in police as well as a general pulling back of proactive policing," Roseanna Ander, executive director of the UChicago Crime Lab, tells Axios.

  • "CPD detectives have cleared 378 homicides in 2021, which is the highest number in 19 years," CPD spokesperson Tom Ahern tells Axios.
  • "Keeping you safe is my priority," said Mayor Lightfoot, per the Tribune. "Not one of, but the first and primary priority."

Between the numbers: The overall ranks of the Chicago police have dropped significantly. According to a WGN-TV investigation, the police department is on track to lose over 1,000 officers from resignation and retirement this year, the most since 2018.

  • Alderperson Anthony Beale (9th) says to WGN-TV, "It is why crime is escalating in the city of Chicago."

Yes, but: Alderperson Ray Lopez (15th) has been upset with the police department moving officers downtown instead of staying in his ward, particularly Back of the Yards.

  • "In my district beat officers have been pulled out, reassigned, to go to downtown and other high priority areas as deemed by the mayor," Lopez told Fox 32.

The latest: In an effort to quell concerns over 2021's violent crime numbers, Mayor Lightfoot asked U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland yesterday for more federal agents for help in going after illegal guns.

  • In April 2021, The UChicago Crime Lab published gun data showing that in early 2020, traffic stops dropped 85% because of the pandemic. But illegal gun confiscations went up.
  • The data suggests that there was a 110% increase in gun carrying from 2019 to 2020.

Visit our interactive map to see violent crime statistics in your area.

2. Universities delaying in-person classes

The quad at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign this fall. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Illinois universities are announcing new COVID protocols ahead of the return to campus in 2022.

Why it matters: The new requirements and schedule changes will affect plans for tens of thousands of people in the state.

The rules: Each university has announced slightly different rules that may change in coming weeks, but so far include:

💭 Monica's thought bubble: I'm secretly thrilled to have my daughter home for an extra week, even if she will be doing remote school.

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏑 The NHL has paused its season until Christmas due to COVID. (ESPN)

🏥 The FBI is investigating the role the city of Chicago and Loretto Hospital played in vaccinations at a suburban church. (BlockClubChicago/BGA)

👩‍⚖️ Special prosecutor report details "major failure of operations" in Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's handling of the Jussie Smollett case. (Chicago Tribune)

4. MMQB: Bears offensive in national TV loss

Akiem Hicks sacks Kirk Cousins during the second half. Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears kept the high-powered Vikings offense under 200 total yards, yet still lost, 17-9, in a game littered with undisciplined penalties and turnovers.

  • The Bears committed four personal fouls, including one from head coach Matt Nagy.

MVP: The defense. Playing with their entire secondary sidelined in COVID protocols, Akiem Hicks & Co. kept Chicago in the game deep into the 4th quarter.

  • Robert Quinn had two sacks and is only two shy of breaking Richard Dent's franchise record.

LVP: Everyone else. The Bears offense failed in the red zone several times.

💭 Axios Twin Cities' Nick Halter writes: The Vikings once again played down to their opponent, this time a COVID-depleted Bears team. They were also aided by some friendly officiating.

5. Janet Davies returns to New Year's Eve

Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies. Photo courtesy of Janet Davies

Longtime New Year's Eve co-hosts Janet Davies and Mark Giangreco are switching stations.

Why it matters: The duo has been a cult favorite for Chicagoans but were both let go by ABC 7 in 2021. They will now be part of NBC 5's celebration.

Context: The local NYE special was a loveable trainwreck, with off-the-cuff banter from the hosts and fun technical difficulties when the broadcast switched from party to party. It was hard to miss a moment. The channel 7 broadcast was always the highest-rated NYE broadcast.

  • "It feels like Chicago is one big family with us that night," Davies tells Axios. "Also I love goofing with my pal Mark. He keeps me on my toes."

Bigger picture: Giangreco was terminated at ABC 7 for HR complaints about his on-air behavior. Davies was let go in a cost-cutting move.

  • "I was told before last year‘s show I was no longer going to work at channel 7," Davies says. "So now I feel this is a chance to have closure."

Yes, but: Even though Giangreco and Davies are back, it may look and feel a little different.

  • "We are not hosting. Cortney Hall and Matt Rodrigues host and they are terrific. We are sprinkled throughout the show which is quite fun. Keep a sharp eye on the screen and wait until the credits are over."

The other side: ABC 7 is giving hosting duties to Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini. Is Davies excited to take on her old colleagues?

  • "What do you think?"

🧩 Monica just discovered the fantastic Rogers Park store called Burgoo, which sells the work of Chicago food, woodwork, game and graphics artisans.

🚿 Justin was excited to go Christmas caroling! But with COVID surging, that means he might be singing Deck the Halls in the shower.